Volvo Electric Roads Aim to Free EVs from the Shackle of Onboard Battery

Thursday, June 20th 2013. | Transportation

One thing that makes the idea of implanting all-electric machine to any types of vehicles less interesting is the machine’s dependence on onboard battery. For that, the drivers have to pull over every few miles to refill the juice in the provided charging station along the way. Inner city drivers might not have any problem with that but for those who sit behind the wheel of long-haul trucks, frequent stops are pretty much of a pain.

Volvo electric roads

Sure, we can just toss in an extremely huge battery that has enough capacity to power the truck in one go without stop but that’s going to mean a considerably huge additional load as well. Volvo attempts to bring a resolve by building electric roads that can supply constant amount of electricity to vehicles running on them.

In partnership with Alstom, the company recently unveiled the prototype of such a system which appeared as a couple of 400-meter long power rails installed on an existing road. Vehicles need to sport a “collector” to take advantage of these rails. Indeed, the idea is pretty much similar to trams but the challenge to bring it to fruition is much greater for it’s not only EVs that pass through the road, but gasoline-driven cars as well.

Each line of the said power rails is pre-loaded with certain current: one is positive and the other is negative. On the other hand, a collector must be installed on the vehicle’s rear. As the vehicle run on the rails, an encrypted signal is made by the collector to “tell” the rails that it’s ready for power transfer. There is a minimum speed requirement for the power transfer to take place which is 37mph.

On the test that was initiated just recently, the rails were capable of delivering 750V to a truck. Now that the prototypes seems to work flawlessly, what’s left for Volvo is figuring out the billing model and the amount of sum they should charge drivers for making use of their facility. You really don’t think it’s free, do you?

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