Elec­tric roads could be way to driver­less fu­ture

Is­rael And Swe­den Ex­per­i­ment With A New Way To In­crease The Uses Of Elec­tric Cars

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends - Clif­ford Krauss

Beit Yan­nai (Is­rael): Elec­tric ve­hi­cles can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce green­house gas emis­sions, at least in the­ory. But chal­lenges to wide ac­cep­tance re­main sig­nif­i­cant: Bat­ter­ies are ex­pen­sive, charg­ing sta­tions are few and far be­tween, and recharg­ing takes far more time than a fillup at the pump.

Atech­no­log­i­cal break­through is needed, and many com­pa­nies are work­ing on ways to make charg­ing faster and travel range longer. Ad­vances have been frus­trat­ingly slow. A small Is­raeli start-up called Elec­treon has an­other idea: elec­trify the roads to recharge ve­hi­cles as they are driven.

At its test site on a boarding school cam­pus out­side Tel Aviv, the com­pany has placed cop­per coils un­der 900 feet of cir­cu­lar pave­ment that trans­mit recharg­ing wire­less en­ergy to an elec­tric Re­nault Zoe test car as it driv­ers by.

Since there are count­less miles of road around the world, Elec­treon is aim­ing to elec­trify ur­ban bus and shut­tle routes first, in an ef­fort to clean Is­rael’s city air and re­duce the coun­try’s de­pen­dence on im­ported oil.

Over time, Elec­treon ex­ec­u­tives hope to go global and make “all-elec­tric city trans­port” the wave of the fu­ture.

“This project has the po­ten­tial to move the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion revo­lu­tion to mass im­ple­men­ta­tion,” said Noam Ilan, a com­pany co-founder and vice pres­i­dent for busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

But first Elec­treon is tak­ing baby steps with two sep­a­rate pilot projects planned.

The city of Tel Aviv and the lo­cal, pri­vate Dan bus com­pany are plan­ning to de­ploy a mile of elec­tri­fied road at the end of the year and grad­u­ally ex­pand de­ploy­ment of the coils to spec­i­fied lanes around the city for buses, trucks and even­tu­ally au­tonomous cars. The Is­raeli Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion has granted $2 mil­lion in seed money for the project, while Dan has con­trib­uted an elec­tric bus and in­vested $3.3 mil­lion in Elec­treon.

Swe­den is plan­ning a sim­i­lar project on the Baltic Sea is­land of Got­land us­ing Elec­treon tech­nol­ogy to recharge an air­port shut­tle bus sup­plied by Dan and an elec­tric truck at a cost of $12 mil­lion, mostly fi­nanced by the Swedish gov­ern­ment. The test will be an ini­tial step in Swe­den’s plans to even­tu­ally build more than a thou­sand miles of elec­tri­fied high-speed high­ways at a cost of $3 bil­lion.

Up to now, wire­less charg­ing has been mostly lim­ited to parked ve­hi­cles. Elec­tric cars are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar around the world. But bat­tery-charged buses have barely made a dent in the global mar­ket out­side of China, which has de­vel­oped a large fleet with gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and other in­cen­tives.

If proven to be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able, Elec­treon’s “smart roads” con­cept could rev­o­lu­tionise ur­ban pub­lic trans­porta­tion. “The fu­ture for us is au­tonomous shut­tles and trucks with tiny bat­ter­ies, no driver and 24-7 op­er­a­tions. Driv­ers are go­ing to dis­ap­pear,” Ilan said.

NYT

A start-up is elec­tri­fy­ing the roads to recharge ve­hi­cles as they are driven

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