This story is from the 2018 Access FYI: FedEx Young Innovators List. Explore more from this issue
Building a new superhighway

Building a New Kind of Superhighway

Coming to a lane year you: roads that charge your electric car while you drive.

Building a new superhighway

Global sales of electric and hybrid vehicles are on the rise, but they account for just a sliver of overall car purchases due to their high cost and not-high-enough driving range. To solve the latter issue, automakers and researchers are experimenting with multiple solutions that could eventually make “infinite mileage” a reality — while hopefully bringing down the cost of electric vehicles in the process.

In 2016, Siemens developed the world’s first electric highway in Norway. The 1.2-mile demo road uses a form of “dynamic charging” in which streetcar-like arms and wires attach to the top of the vehicle and juice up its battery in the process. (The company recently opened a similar trucks-only electric highway between Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.) And in April, the Swedish Transport Administration debuted its own 1.2–mile test run of electrified roadway. Instead of using an overhead connection, it powers cars via a retractable arm attached to the bottom of the car, which taps electric tracks imbedded in the pavement.

For all you cord cutters out there, the other big trend in in-motion charging is pavement retrofitted with wireless transmitter coils that boost your battery on the go. Everyone from Qualcomm to Honda to Nissan is working on inductive charging technology, with prototype “electric roads” popping up in Israel, France and other parts of the world.

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