From the “Fantastic Car” to the “Johnny Taxi” through the most famous car in the history of comics, the Batmobile, we could easily list a few famous autonomous cars from film and television.
But we go one step further. And if the Batmobile were electric, how would it be recharged? We certainly don’t imagine Batman waiting (attached to a cable) until his Batmobile’s battery is charged and ready to cruise the streets of Gotam.
Wireless charging is starting to become a reality with a long way to go. For now it is in situ but we do not rule out that we will be recharging a vehicle as it travels through the projects that are being developed.
The goal is to make charging as convenient and fast as filling up with gasoline or diesel, to forget about long wires running between sidewalks and driveways (and the danger that comes with it), and above all, to recharge the car regardless of the type of plug it has. Wireless charging addresses all these challenges and is attracting a growing list of well-known car manufacturers such as Volvo, BMW and Nissan.
Wireless charging systems use electromagnetic induction and charge itself by simply parking on a ground platform. A plugless system is basically composed of three parts: the base charging unit, the vehicle charging unit or adapter and a control panel that guides you to the charging point.
The adapter is manufactured for different car models. It does not substantially modify the underbody of the car and is reversible, it can be uninstalled.
Plugless Power goes even further, it talks about “Driver empowerment”. They bet on the development of a simple interface that connects our charging device with our phone, watch and/or tablet to receive all the notifications that our charging system sends us.
Charge while driving! It’s almost a reality.
So far we’ve talked about static charging, but charging on the move? This is going to be the key to the future, the most valued in electric car technology; the ability to power a car while driving on chargers embedded in the road surface is coming. Back in 2017, Qualcomm’s Qualcomm Halo technology development demonstrated that it is possible to charge while driving, even with the vehicle traveling at speeds up to 100 km/hr. They called it, “Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging” (WEVC).
Beneath the surface of the 100-meter test track, Qualcomm installed a wireless charging system capable of sending power to a fleet of Renault Kangoo electric vans.
Now in 2021, we are approaching a reality not too far away because large field tests are already underway or about to begin in Europe and the U.S. From ABB through the major car brands, more and more companies are getting involved in this type of project.
The latest significant agreement was the agreement between Holcim (a world leader in the design and manufacture of building materials and solutions) and the German startup Magment focused on the development of wireless charging to improve its magnetizable concrete technology for road surfaces and enable electric vehicles to be charged wirelessly in a much more efficient way. In addition, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) in the U.S. and Purdue University have announced plans to develop the first road segment with this technology.
And when you bet on new ideas without seeing the fact of being wrong as a setback, innovations end up on the market. For now, wireless charging on the move is in the testing phase, but if agreements are reached and the testing phases progress, it will soon be a reality.
As Batman would say:
“At the end, it’s fear that makes you fail.”