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Transportation Power Wireless Networking

New York City To Get Manhole Covers That Wirelessly Charge Electric Vehicles 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the sending-power-through-the-ether dept.
Lucas123 writes "A new project between NYU and start-up HEVO Power will disguise wireless charging stations in manhole covers. The wireless charging stations are aimed at providing fleets of delivery vehicles with power in parking spaces around the city. Next year, Toyota plans to test a wireless charging Prius in Japan, Europe. And, U.S. Auto electronics giant Delphi is developing technology for electric vehicles that could be used industrywide. The charging stations could be embedded in asphalt or pads that lay on garage floors. Wireless charging, however, still has many obstacles to overcome, including the time it takes to recharge a vehicle, cost to deploy the technology and power loss during electrical transfer."
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New York City To Get Manhole Covers That Wirelessly Charge Electric Vehicles

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  • by disposable60 (735022) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:34PM (#45192603) Journal

    I recall news stories from over a decade ago lamenting the fact that ConEd manhole covers were being used to charge dogs. Inadvertently, and sadly fatally, but this technology has been around for a while.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rhazz (2853871)
      Citation: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/15/nyregion/15dog.html?_r=0 [nytimes.com]

      I recalled this too and had to find the article :)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wait until you see what happens to the first drunk guy to piss on a manhole cover...

      • by SpzToid (869795)

        My colleague came in to work one day and told me the funniest story. He was standing on the tube subway platform the previous night in London, and some guy down at the end of the platform started to take a leak on the tracks. Maybe funniest wasn't the best choice of words. Fortunately for the guy taking a leak, someone with CCTV started screaming into the PA system to stop, and the guy on the platform did, in time. Be careful and think first guys.

    • I recall news stories from over a decade ago lamenting the fact that ConEd manhole covers were being used to charge dogs. Inadvertently, and sadly fatally, but this technology has been around for a while.

      This is possibly the funniest post I have ever read on /.

      • Tragedy is when I get a hangnail.
        Comedy is when you piss on a manhole cover, get electrocuted, and it burns your schmecky off.

        / I think that was Mel Brooks I just parodied

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:34PM (#45192615) Homepage Journal

    Will the nutjobs afraid of wireless routers be able to survive walking down the sidewalk in NYC now?

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      I would hope that the wireless charging manhole covers would not be on the sidewalks, otherwise a large number of pedestrians will be peeved, not just the tinfoil hat crowd.
      • by danomac (1032160)

        Eh, I think the drivers will be more peeved. Low on battery? Just stop in the middle of the street on top of a manhole cover. Traffic hilarity ensues.

        • Stopping in the middle of the street in NYC is largely impossible, as the precondition - moving in the street in NYC - is almost never met.
          • by danomac (1032160)

            Ah yes. But most people think the traffic can't get any worse in NYC. HEVO Power is about to prove them wrong!

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I would hope that the wireless charging manhole covers would not be on the sidewalks, otherwise a large number of pedestrians will be peeved, not just the tinfoil hat crowd.

        Well, you could always go *over* the vehicle on the sidewalk, you know...

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          Well, you could always go *over* the vehicle on the sidewalk, you know...

          I'd say "go around", but that's probably just me. The important question is how many pedestrians did the electric vehicles go over to get to the charging manholes on the sidewalk?

    • by icebike (68054)

      Well, the article is fairly vague on the exact details of the technology but it did say:

      HEVO's manhole covers work via electromagnetic resonance, which makes a magnetic connection between a charging coil to a car equipped with a wireless charging coil.

      Without some NFC communications built in, I don't see how they monetize that, or even control the on/off condition of the system.
      If they simply leave them on all the time, simply driving over one of these could induce eddy currents in any passing vehicle, (like passing a wire through any magnetic field), which might prove uprising on a rainy day, not to mention induction in re-rod built into sidewalks, lamp poles, underg

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      If they actually make it so it can charge an EV in a reasonable amount of time then you won't have to be a nutjob to be afraid of it.

  • Tax dollars at work? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:35PM (#45192619)

    So who pays for this? Is it everyone or just those that own electric vehicles?

    I have a diesel car and nobody is helping to pay for my fuel consumption.

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      It's New York City. Everyone pays, well, except for the well-connected political elite, anyway.

    • Every couple hundred miles along major freeways so customers can drive more than 200 miles a day. I suspected they will be affiliated with food venders, so drivers can take a break during the 30-60 minute charging period. These will be high capcity compared to the overnight chargers they may have at home. If long distance EVS catches on,then more companies & governments will install these.
      • by es330td (964170)
        Free = embedded in the cost of the Tesla vehicle. Air, wind and sunlight are free. Everything else has a cost built in someplace.
      • What they really need is a moving recharge station like a tanker plane refueling a fighter jet. Either that, or I see a Starbucks popping up at every charging station. This is all silly, though. by the time they get all the stations in, electric cars will be able to do 300 miles on a charge. Now what? Drive only 200 miles or get stuck in between the next two stations?
    • by icebike (68054)

      Your diesel car isn't being refueled simply by virtue of which parking spot you chose.
      If it were, you'd be paying.

      I suspect it will have to be done via a metering system triggered by NFC transducers on the vehicle.
      Sort of like you ezpass, but located on the bottom of the vehicle.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      ...aside from the soldiers that we send over when an oil supplying country looks wobbly, the externalized pollution that petroleum-burning engines make, etc. You're clueless.

  • They forgot to mention the potential issue with all those alternating magnetic fields everywhere. What happens when they start resonating? We could end up with a building pulled down like that old Tacoma bridge [youtube.com] example.

    • I almost took this post seriously. You're flying too low, man! You're about to crash into what people actually believe.

    • They forgot to mention the potential issue with all those alternating magnetic fields everywhere. What happens when they start resonating?

      Then it's time to bust out the crowbar and ask yourself: WWGFD?

  • by bob_super (3391281) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:39PM (#45192665)

    Cool, my Manhole cover recycling business will get a boost from all the extra tech I can resell!

    What? If they don't want me to take them, why do they leave them lying on the ground?

  • Disguise? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stillnotelf (1476907) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:40PM (#45192679)
    I was really curious about the need to "disguise" the chargers as manhole covers - it's not like they'd be an eyesore, and they'll be "public enough" that they won't be secret, either. Unfortunately it was poetic licence in TFS, not in TFA...
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:48PM (#45192755)
    Color me skeptical -- between the energy losses in electricity generation, transmission to the wireless charger, the wireless charging process, storage in the car's battery, and finally conversion to mechanical energy, it is hard to imagine this being a win in terms of overall energy efficiency or emissions reduction. If NYC had a big surplus of low-cost, zero-carbon energy sources, of course, this would make perfect sense. I suspect they'll instead end up burning more fossil fuels to charge the electric cars than they would to just drive equivalent diesel or internal-combustion vehicles.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      NYC had a big surplus of low-cost, zero-carbon energy sources

      Um, NYC is primarily powered by the Niagra Falls.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Um, NYC is primarily powered by the Niagra Falls.

        [citation needed]. Niagara Falls is a long way from NYC and doesn't generate that much power. Ravenswood Generating Station in Queens generates almost as much power as the Niagara Falls hydroelectric station. It burns natural gas and a variety of petroleum products, and is far from the only such power plant in NYC.

        Furthermore, Indian Point (nuclear) generates ~30% of the electricity that NYC and Westchester County consume (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/nyregion/04indian.html?_r=0).

    • My grandfather, now 92 years old, has been screaming at his condo building for two decades now. They have a pool, and a sauna. It's an electric sauna. Because it takes time to warm up, people turn it on, go for a quick swim, and come back to it 15 minutes later when it's hot. In the end, the electric sauna runs electric current through a resistor for an hour to heat up and stay hot for the people inside. It winds up being something rediculous like 10 kWh for a 1 hour sauna, where just a few drops of li

      • by adolf (21054)

        The energy loss across the electrical grid is staggering

        From the US Energy Information Administration [eia.gov]:

        According to EIA data, national, annual electricity transmission and distribution losses average about 7% of the electricity that is transmitted in the United States.

        Sounds pretty good to me.

        (And please realize that liquid fuel doesn't happen for free, either. And that all electric heaters are damn near 100% efficient at converting electricity into heat.)

        • Many link me to those numbers. But they miss 90% of the cradle-to-grave. Think about before and after those measurements are taken. Think about repairing all of those lines after storms and damage.

          We're not comparing grid-efficiency to fuel-efficiency. We're comparing grid-efficiency to nothing and fuel-efficiency to nothing. We'll then compare those final numbers.

          The nice part about fuel like gasolene, is that the explosive force carries quite well into turning an axel. Most electric motors work thro

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        My grandfather, now 92 years old, has been screaming at his condo building for two decades now. They have a pool, and a sauna. It's an electric sauna. Because it takes time to warm up, people turn it on, go for a quick swim, and come back to it 15 minutes later when it's hot. In the end, the electric sauna runs electric current through a resistor for an hour to heat up and stay hot for the people inside. It winds up being something rediculous like 10 kWh for a 1 hour sauna, where just a few drops of liquid fuel would easily achieve the same levels of heat, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

        The energy loss across the electrical grid is staggering when you look at it from cradle to grave. It winds up being close to or over 40%, and it's absurd.

        Since we're supposed to blame Edison, maybe we should also blame your grandfather for not punching him in the nose when he had a chance?

        • (: I'm not sure that the two were both alive and able to speak at the same time. I'm also not sure that saunas existed during that overlap. I do know that they were not in the same country.

      • My grandfather, now 92 years old, has been screaming at his condo building for two decades now.

        Mine used to yell at clouds.

    • it is hard to imagine

      So is relativity of simultaneity, but that doesn't automatically make it not true.

  • Whose money is backing these experiments?
  • The article says 85% efficiency, which may be raised to 90%. 15% is a lot to give away.

    What is needed is a simple mechanical design standard to 'plug in' the car that doesn't require extra steps for the driver. Like, when you drive into a car wash, you feel the wheels come to rest in a track. Use the weight of the car to raise a positive contact under one side and a negative on the other. The contacts drop when you back off. Something simple like that.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Or the driver can get out and plug in the standardized cable. That method greatly simplifies the gear and uses the already existing plug standard. If you are going to plug in and you need to do it automatically you are just lazy.

      • by godrik (1287354)

        If we could do it with 99% efficiency then the cost of being lazy would be acceptable. But 15% seems like a lot. (And frankly, I am kind of doubting that you can actually get that much.) Essentially it means that the power is 15% more expensive (at least) just for the luxury of not plugin a cable. If I could not get out of my car but still get gas at a 15% surcharge, well, I'd get out of my car and pump my own gas...

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Correct, as people we are mostly lazy. Might as well re-start your thought process from there.
      • If you are going to plug in and you need to do it automatically you are just lazy.

        Dude - lazy is the true name of progress.

        If not for the inherent laziness of humans, there would be no such thing as automatic transmissions, power windows/locks, window defrosters, and pretty much ever other invention in the history of mankind.

        Seriously - do you want to spend the majority of your waking hours hunting, gathering, and fleeing from predators? No?

        Then quite whining, you lazy bastard.

    • What is needed is a simple mechanical design standard to 'plug in' the car that doesn't require extra steps for the driver. Like, when you drive into a car wash, you feel the wheels come to rest in a track.

      I was just thinking about a solution for that: A combination of self-parking mechanism and a magnetized connector (like the power cord on my '08 vintage MacBook) would take care of it.

      Basically, any vehicle that's part of the system could pull up next to the spot, at which point the computer-assist would take over and park the vehicle so that the charging pads lined up. Once the vehicle shifts into park (or the key is removed), sensors would communicate with the charging system to release the magnetic lock

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Yeah, the hard part is making the infrastructure port extremely cheap and robust (if there is to be one retrofitted in every parking spot) and also not add too much cost to the car. Anything that requires lining things up to within a couple inches will require either a mechanical means (like driving into tracks) or precise maneuvering. If self-driving cars catch on, then precise maneuvering becomes an option.
        • Yeah, the hard part is making the infrastructure port extremely cheap and robust (if there is to be one retrofitted in every parking spot)

          Of course, since any mechanical part is prone to failure. This is the point at which the engineers who frequent Slashdot should say, "ooh, hey, that is a good idea, and here's how it should be done!"

          Anything that requires lining things up to within a couple inches will require either a mechanical means (like driving into tracks) or precise maneuvering. If self-driving cars catch on, then precise maneuvering becomes an option.

          Since they have self-parking mechanisms on many non-automated vehicles already, I don't think we have to wait for Google cars for the concept to be feasible; although, regardless of implementation it would require some sort of consensus and work-together spirit on the part of auto makers. That seems like the log

    • The article says 85% efficiency, which may be raised to 90%. 15% is a lot to give away.

      And how efficient is a petrol engine?

      Spoiler alert: not very [fueleconomy.gov].

  • I guess manholes just happen to be located in those same places that rechargeable vehicles tend to park. And for those that aren't, we'll just move em!
    • by nukenerd (172703)

      I guess manholes just happen to be located in those same places that rechargeable vehicles tend to park. And for those that aren't, we'll just move em!

      It's bullshit. They are not manhole covers, they are chargers. Someone has called them "manhole covers" to give the impression to non-technical politicians and councils (they are all non-technical BTW) that you just convert existing manholes to chargers by waving a magic wand over them without digging up the road etc.

      Its bull shit because :-

      1) Existing manholes will never be in the right place.

      2) Existing manholes are needed as er... manholes

      3) Existing manholes are not likely to be the optimum s

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:57PM (#45192883)
    How much power will this add to manhole explosions? Will the explosions be triggered more often with live wires in the manholes (and the loose connectors that manholes would require)? Was Michael Bay involved in the design?
  • They already have ones that wirelessly charge people and their dogs.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/new-yorkers-and-dogs-risk-electrocution-on-city-streets-how-to-be-safe [examiner.com]

  • And will they accept Visa?

  • Will I be able to charge my phone for free?
    • by icebike (68054)

      Sure, just toss it under the truck.

      You will be able to tell the proper location to position it, because there will be a boatload of smashed phones
      down there from where owners didn't hang around to retrieve them before the truck pulled away,

  • You pull into the designated space, a robotic arm deploys from the pavement underneath and plugs you into the grid. You start your vehicle, the arm retracts. And of course you'd design the connection to easily detach if the vehicle suddenly peeled away. More efficient connection, less people freaking out about EM.

    .
    • by icebike (68054)

      You pull into the designated space, a robotic arm deploys from the pavement underneath and plugs you into the grid. You start your vehicle, the arm retracts. And of course you'd design the connection to easily detach if the vehicle suddenly peeled away. More efficient connection, less people freaking out about EM. .

      But the first hapless Volkswagen that pulls into the space gets the robotic arm spot welded to the frame.
       

  • by twmcneil (942300) on Monday October 21, 2013 @06:07PM (#45194607)
    "Oh, and we'll have to bill you for charging your vehicle of course. Just sign here to authorize us to obtain your credentials wirelessly anytime your vehicle passes over a manhole cover."

    Who needs old fashioned tracking devices that have to be surreptitiously installed under a vehicle? You just gave them permission to track you full time.
  • "Quick, let's hide down here..."

  • The charging stations could be embedded in asphalt or pads that lay on garage floors.

    They lay... power-up eggs that the pac-man vans pick up? This makes no sense.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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