Highways England has ‘paused’ plans to trial under-road induction charging for electric vehicles while it keeps an eye on a European project testing the technology, despite the scheme already running over a year late.
In 2015, the government-owned company announced plans for around 18 months of off-road trials into how “electric highways” technology can work safely on the country’s motorways and major A roads.
The trials were scheduled to start that year with further details due when a contract was let. However no contract has so far been let and the entire scheme is now on hold.
A spokesman said, “Having carefully considered the maturity and viability of the wireless technology that could power electric vehicles, we have decided to pause the project until at least 2018 when a similar trial is completed on urban roads. This similar trial, which Highways England is not involved in, is off-road testing in Versailles near Paris.”
The €9m FABRIC project, which is partly funded by the European Commission, aims to address the technological feasibility, economic viability, and socio-environmental sustainability of wireless dynamic electric vehicle charging (DEVC).
DEVC demonstrations took place at the 100-meter FABRIC test track, which has been built by Vedecom at Satory, Versailles, near Paris.
The trials have used innovations from Qualcomm Technologies Inc. (QTI), which developed Qualcomm Halo, a wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) technology that can be used for DEVC.
QTI has designed, built, and tested a DEVC system capable of charging an EV dynamically at speeds of over 62mph with 20 kW.
QTI and Vedecom installed the primary part of the Qualcomm Halo DEVC system in the test track, while Vedecom and Renault installed the secondary part on two Renault Kangoos. The Qualcomm Halo DEVC system was handed over to Vedecom for the FABRIC tests.
“This is a huge achievement, and as someone who’s studied wireless power transfer and focused my career on its commercialisation, this is pretty cool stuff,” said Michael Kissin, director engineering, Qualcomm New Zealand Ltd.
“Being part of a team helping to drive change and deliver technology to benefit the industry, the planet and how we power passenger vehicles of the future is absolutely fascinating.”
The FABRIC trial system uses a 100-metre track, comprised of 4 x 25 metre stubs, each running from its own power supply. Each stub powers 14 Base Array Network (BAN) blocks coupled magnetically into the backbone cable.
The power is transmitted across the air gap between the track and two 10 kW vehicle pads (VPs) located under the EV. The vehicle system converts the 85-kHz AC magnetic field and delivers DC power to the EV’s battery management system.
Qualcomm Halo technology was designed so electric vehicle drivers will be able to wirelessly at any WEVC bay independent of which supplier provides the hardware, or EV they drive.
“A question I get asked a lot is when can I buy a vehicle with WEVC installed and ready to use,” Mr Kissin states. “The number of development contracts and requests is on the increase. We expect that production orders will be placed soon, and we will start to see WEVC systems on production vehicles in the next two to three years.”
He added, “We have technology that speaks to the power conversion, the magnetics, the control and communications, also the ancillary system and safety.”
He described it as a “solid, robust and fit for purpose” system that has so far delivered “excellent results”.