Pulling Wires for Wireless

The discussion surrounding electric vehicles has been about getting more wires out on the street for EVSE equipment, but slowly the trend is going for less wires and looking at wireless power transfer. The trend has come a long way since it first appeared at a TED in 2009.


Last week KAIST made some big splashes in the news again with their latest development. KAIST is now testing their wirelessly charged busses in an actual urban environment, in the South Korean city of Gumi. Previously test runs have been done at an amusement park and at KAIST's campus.

The power comes from cables embedded in the road

The power comes from cables embedded in the road

What is new about KAIST's project now is they are using wires instead of the conventional coils. Competitors have so far all used magnetic coils to transfer power from the surface of the road into the vehicle. Now KAIST can do the same, but with a set of cables. The main advantage is installation costs and time. The main benefits for cables has been explained to me about a year ago by professor Pavol Bauer from TU Delft; putting a large number of coils in the road requires you to break open a large area of road. Putting a cable in you can achieve by just milling a long slot to put the cable in; a lot cheaper and quicker!

Benefits of Wirelss Power Transfer:
  • Can charge on the go
  • No fiddling with cables at stops
  • Can use smaller battery
  • Lighter bus
  • More room/capacity for passengers
Benefits of KAIST Method:
  • Cables are easier to install
  • ables are cheaper to install
  • Only 5-15% road surface required
  • 85% transfer efficiency achieved
The first race of the Formula E will be Sept 2014 in Rome

The first race of the Formula E will be Sept 2014 in Rome

Formula E

The concept of electric vehicles that can go on forever while being charged wirelessly is very appealing; instead of having to stop the race after the batteries are drained, you can drive a full Le Mans on electricity! It was to my amazement that back in 2011 the FIA had not fully considered inductive charging as an option to race with for their (then) upcoming Formula E Championship. I was even more delighted when I got the opportunity to come over to Paris and explain in person the pros and cons of such an inductive charged race to them. The inductive race did not make it (yet) for the Formula E Championship, but one team does look promising for this technology: Drayson Racing.

Drayson's Electric Racing Vehicle, capable of achieving over 200mph for their World Record, is made ready for inductive charging

Drayson's Electric Racing Vehicle, capable of achieving over 200mph for their World Record, is made ready for inductive charging

Drayson Racing

Drayson Racing was one of the first teams to sign on with the Formula E, they have made headlines with their World Record and they can charge their battery wirelessly with Qualcomm Halo technology. Their aim is to have a full inductive race.

Inductive Racing

While the Formula E is staged for city races and inductive technology is not that widely available yet, being able to get a race track ready by simply installing a few cables is much easier to accomplish than digging up the city and installing a lot of coils to get the same effect.

Hybrid Vehicle - Le Mans getting more Sustainable every year

The big FIA organized endurance race of Le Mans (24 hours of racing) is getting more sustainable every edition. Paired with the outspoken ambition of the FIA to be a catalyst in automotive innovation, earlier edition of the Le Mans saw Drayson race on bio fuels. This year will feature a sporty hybrid from Toyota in the field.


It is just a matter of time till the first full electric car will also participate in the field and not jut for a few laps. There are rumours of a hydrogen racer for Le Mans as well, so we might be in for another treat this year.


With these examples, the changes to Formula 1 and the upcoming Formula E championship, the FIA has set out their vision of where the automotive should go. The racing industry can become like the space program, which has also helped science and innovation. Great to see that something that is fun to watch, is also becoming something that is helping us achieve a more sustainable world, who would have thought that a few years ago?






Toyota’s Headed to Le Mans — With Hybrids http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/01/toyota-ts030-hybrid-racers/

“Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race,” team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said in a statement. “But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain.”

(via Instapaper)