These Incredible New Buses Are Charged Wirelessly by the Road Itself

By Adam Clark Estes on at

Imagine an electric vehicle that can travel endless distances without ever needing to stop at a recharging station. That sounds impossible right? Because electric vehicles run on batteries and at some point you need stop and charge those batteries. Not this one.
Two new electric buses just hit the streets in the city of Gumi, South Korea that literally get their power from the streets. These so called Online Electric Vehicles (OLEV) receive power wirelessly from electrical cables laid underneath the surface of the street using Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR) technology. The buses carry a battery that's one third the size of those in traditional electric cars and charges by collecting 100 kilowatts worth of electricity while riding about 17 centimetres above the surface of the road. They're efficient too, using 85 percent of the power that's emitted from the lines.

Researchers have high hopes for the technology, which was originally developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The SMFIR tech was unveiled a couple of years ago at Seoul Grand Park, a zoo and amusement park in the country's capital. However the hope is roll it out in more cities over the next few years. Well why not? The start up costs are minimal since the power cables don't need to be laid under the entire road, just sections along the route. Plus because those sections are only activated when a bus drives over them, the power use is minimal.

In the larger scheme of things, it's hard to see SMFIR technology this being applied to regular passenger vehicles since you'd have to rip up all the roads everywhere to install the cables. However, there are plans to start sending OLEVs around the world. The next stop is the Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia and Park City in Utah. The kids at Sundance will just love this. [PhysOrg]

Image via KAIST