Drive n' Charge
Wireless EV charging equipment embedded in roadway pavement will be tested in Indiana, USA, allowing automobiles to charge while driving. According to a press statement from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), testing will take place in three phases, the first of which will begin this summer.
Pavement testing, analysis, and optimisation will be done in collaboration with Purdue University in the first two phases. Only in phase three will a real testbed be built, consisting of a quarter-mile of pavement in an unknown area.
INDOT will conduct the test with a modular configuration created by Magment GmbH, a German business. Electricity is transmitted by coils implanted in the concrete, which are picked up by coils installed on a vehicle.
Heavy-duty trucks will be charged at 200 kilowatts or higher during the testing. If the testing are successful, the government plans to employ wireless charging on a stretch of Interstate highway that has yet to be selected.
INDOT claims that its planned wireless-charging testing will be a world first, but comparable technology has been proven previously. Qualcomm demonstrated hardware in 2017 that could charge a small vehicle while it was travelling at 60 mph. Qualcomm's wireless-charging technology was sold to WiTricity in 2019 as part of a deal.
Electreon, an Israeli firm, has demonstrated a wireless charging system with heavy-duty vehicles on a small stretch of Swedish road. Electreon began testing the system on a bus route in Tel Aviv earlier this year.
Israel’s Electreon wireless e-road technology is being piloted in Sweden and in Tel Aviv
In 2020, 25 Jaguar I-Pace taxis will be charged by six static wireless pads from wireless-charging company Momentum Dynamics as part of an experiment in Oslo, Norway.
While static systems like that have a bright future ahead of them and can now compete with DC fast charging rates, dynamic wireless charging still confronts numerous technological challenges, including a lack of standardisation. Static wireless charging standards have been standardised to assure vehicle and charging hardware interoperability, however dynamic charging standards have yet to be unified.
Tow n' Charge
Ford has patented a method of flat-towing electric automobiles for charging, which opens up some intriguing possibilities.
The patent explains how an electric car can be charged while being towed by another vehicle. Ford's patent application, filed in December 2020 and revealed in July, might be a commercial vehicle or possibly another passenger car.
Vehicles could be charged at any time, or while the towing vehicle is braking or driving downhill, placing less extra strain on the engine and allowing for regenerative braking.
Ford also proposed a road-train scenario, in which moving vehicles might communicate with one another via Bluetooth or the internet. An EV would be towed by a larger vehicle in a (more likely) alternative scenario, with the driver of that vehicle directing charging. Depending on the application, the trailing vehicle can have all four wheels on the road or only two.
Ford Patent for flat-towing charging
Many RV drivers already flat-tow cars behind their motorhomes, which could explain how Ford's engineers came up with this concept.
While not addressed in the patent docs, it appears that turning the EV into a hybrid to help boost the RV up hills and recover energy down hills might greatly enhance efficiency. However, this would necessitate some extremely sophisticated controls.
It's unknown whether Ford intends to put this system into production, as with other patents. Automobile manufacturers frequently file patent applications even if they have no plans to use the claimed technology.
Charging while towing also appears to be a bit inconvenient. It reminds us of the generator trailers and battery trailers that were proposed as means to extend the range of modern electric cars in their early days.
Granted, the Ford F-150 Hybrid pickup truck's Pro Power Onboard feature, which uses the hybrid powertrain to power electronics or tools while parked, could make sense.
Alternatively, this could be a method to assist electric semi-trucks. Keeping them completely charged will necessitate a stepped-up megawatt charging network.