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Transportation Power

Volvo's Electric Roads Concept Points To Battery-Free EV Future 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-holding-out-for-mr.-fusion dept.
Zothecula writes "While quick charging technology installed at strategic points along a planned route might be a good fit for inner city buses, it's not going to be of much use to electric vehicles that stop infrequently. Volvo sees our future long-haul trucks and buses drawing the juice they need from the road itself, making large onboard batteries a thing of the past. 'The two power rails/lines run along the road's entire length. One is a positive pole, and the other is used to return the current. The lines are sectioned so that live current is only delivered to a collector mounted at the rear of, or under, the truck if an appropriate signal is detected. As an additional safety measure, the current flows only when the vehicle is moving at speeds greater than 60 km/h (37 mph). "The vehicle is equipped with a radio emitter, which the road segments can sense," explains Volvo's Per-Martin Johnansson. "If an electric vehicle passes a road segment with a proper encrypted signal, then the road will energize the segments that sense the vehicle.'"
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Volvo's Electric Roads Concept Points To Battery-Free EV Future

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:10PM (#44008671)

    You need an appropriate device on your car to activate the power to the rails on your section of the road. This gives a great opportunity to track your vehicle, where it is, what speed it's travelling, how much energy it's using and then send you a bill as a sort of dynamic road toll for the use of the road, a bill for the energy you used and the fines for exceeding the speed limit all without actually having an officer present.

    Wouldn't mind it, though, if the system were intelligent enough that I could tell the car where I wanted to stop and then it could take care of the details of getting me there and wake me up from my nap once we get within a few miles of the destination. If the car's driving while I'm napping then they can send any moving violations to the company that built the car and its software.

  • automobile methodone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nimbius (983462) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:30PM (#44008939) Homepage
    while i agree finding affordable solutions to retrofit existing vehicles for alternative energy should be a near-term priority, I detest the idea of the long-haul truck as being anything sustainable. we have an entire infrastructure of bought-and-paid-for rail that stretches across the nation to deliver goods. its already partially electric by virtue of its diesel to electric locomotive propulsion system, and could be almost trivial to convert to a hybrid electric system that returns energy to the grid. eventually going full electric would be largely feasible and we'd take some of the largest polluters off the roads in the process.
    volvo might use this technology to create rechargeable cities. for example: san diego is a charging city, but once on the freeway you're "wireless" and running off the battery. upon entering say, downtown los angeles, you're in a charging city and running off the grid. grid fees are integrated with parking fees, etc..
  • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:41PM (#44009065) Homepage
    If we're going to go through the trouble of laying down electric rails on the highway, why not just put down actual rails so we don't have to steer the cars either. have a system where the car can attach/detach from the rails so that it can move between traditional roads and roads with rails. Basically it would work like those electric slot car racers, except you'd want to engineer it so it the car wouldn't fly off the track in a corner. The car would then just retract the mechanism that fits inside the slot when it wants to go on traditional roads. You could have an electric car that has it's own batteries for short trips, but gets power from the roads when going on longer trips.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 14, 2013 @01:50PM (#44009173) Homepage

    This has been tried before. It's called a ground level power supply. [] Trams in Bordeaux use it. The sections are powered on and off in 8-meter sections. When a section is off, it's grounded. For safety, there are two levels of switching. The 8-meter sections each have their own power control box, and there's a second level of control which monitors a number of sections and will cut power for many sections if something is live that shouldn't be. The trams have battery backup so they can get through dead sections. Bordeaux only uses the system in their scenic historic area. Once out of that area, the trams raise pantographs to connect to overhead wire. Two other small cities in France have installed that system, but only short sections in the city center use that system. Dubai is putting in 14km of a similar system.

    Drainage, water, and ice are big problems. (Not in Dubai, though.) So is cost. There's a lot of high-voltage switchgear involved.

  • Re:Who Pays? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday June 14, 2013 @02:01PM (#44009297)

    If one assumes that this is the solution for electric cars, then a logical extension is that everybody will adopt it. Intercity truck hauling is the low hanging fruit so that is where you start. Then it cascades down to everybody. In 20 years half the cars driving would use the technology.

    Initially costs would have to be subsidized by the taxpayers, but as usage grows then subsides would disappear with costs being recouped by charging for the electricity.

    It’s a long shot but there could be huge wins. That is how I would evaluate it.

    I can see a couple of 'gotchas' already.

    First, those are conductors embedded in the road. They'll be exposed to the weather and climate. What happens when a snow plow drives over it scraping snow away from the road bed? Won't the blade short out the strip? Can it get all the snow and ice off the conductors? Will there be shorts when a vehicle activates a strip? What happens if a strip goes dead for a bit? Are they going to be designed short enough that momentum will take the vehicle to the next strip?

    How are you going to power this sucker?

    This is an interesting concept, though, a way to get engineers thinking outside the box. But why use strips embedded in a road surface when you can build maser towers and beam power to a rectenna installed on the vehicle?

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.