Today’s Solutions: July 20, 2024

Last year, The Optimist Daily wrote an article about how the state government in Indiana was testing roads that could charge EV vehicles while they were being driven. Now, it seems this technology is leaping forward in Detroit.

Inductive charging technology is being connected to two short roadways in Detroit, creating the country’s first wireless electric road system (ERS). The highways will be able to charge electric vehicles that use a particular receiver while driving. By 2023, the road will be completely operational.

How does the EV charging highway work?

Roads are embedded with coils that deliver magnetic energy to receivers fixed under EVs for the project. That energy is then used to charge the car battery, whether stationary or moving.

“We’re the auto capital. We continue to push technology advancements,” Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at the Michigan Department of Transportation stated, as reported by Fast Company.

In September 2021, Governor Gretchen Whitmer first unveiled the Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot. Michigan and its project partner, Electreon, signed a five-year agreement in September 2022 to scale up and operate the ERS.

Although Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s vice president of business development in Los Angeles, told dot.LA that this technology may charge slower than traditional plug-in charging stations, it can provide more continuous charging while buses, taxis, or other vehicles are moving or stopping, resulting in less time spent stopping at a station to recharge.

What are the possible benefits of EV charging roads?

Over time, the technology could increase battery range and make it easier to electrify more oversized commercial vehicles by allowing them to install smaller and less expensive batteries. Instead of paying $150,000 for batteries for each long-haul semi-truck, smaller batteries that recharge while the truck is moving freight would cost around $15,000 per truck.

The initial testing will be free, but once deployed, the ERS might connect to drivers’ cars or smartphones to accept or reject charging. If accepted, the driver would be charged per kilowatt, much like a standard charging station, according to Fast Company.

Next steps for Detroit’s ERS

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Electreon will examine the benefits of ERS and analyze pressure on the grid, the cost of scaling up the technology, and how it fits into the state’s electrification by 2045 agenda. The partners also intend to investigate pollution reduction and air quality and make the ERS more publicly available.

“The potential for electrifying roads and cities is practically endless and working together with MDOT we are reshaping the future of transportation,” Oren Ezer, CEO and co-founder of Electreon, said in a statement.

In the next years, similar programs will be tested in other states, including Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Earlier this year, Electreon claimed that its wireless charging technology had been successfully implemented in Brescia, Italy and that its ERS was ready for commercialization.

Michigan is also considering electrifying its state-owned automobile fleet by 2030.

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