The researchers' wireless power concept is based on transferring electrical energy through electric fields at very high frequencies. Future electric vehicles, they envision, could be able to recharge while driving down the highway by drawing wireless power directly from low-cost charging plates installed in the road.
Most electric vehicles today can only travel between 100 and 250 miles on a single charge, and charging stations are still far from ubiquitous in the U.S., requiring drivers to carefully plan their trips. That problem, say the researchers, could go away with this technology.
"On a highway, you could have one lane dedicated to charging," says Khurram Afridi, an assistant professor in CU Boulder's Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. Afridi notes that a vehicle could simply travel in that lane when it needed an energy boost and could carry a smaller onboard battery as a result, reducing the overall cost of the vehicle.
While wireless power technology currently exists for low-power mobile devices, applying it to a vehicle, especially one in motion, would require a far more significant amount of power - on the order of tens of kilowatts of power - to be sent across a greater physical distance. In addition, a car traveling at highway speeds would not be in range of any single charging pad for more than a fraction of a second - so such pads would need to be placed every few meters to provide a continuous charge.