Smart roads trial could pave the way for wireless charging of electric vehicles

New smart roads that can power electric and hybrid vehicles while they are on the move are set to be trialled in England later this year.

Highways England announced last week that off-road trials will test how the technology would work safely and effectively on motorways and major A roads, allowing drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel long distances without needing to stop and charge the car’s battery.

The trials follow the completion of a feasibility study commissioned by Highways England into ‘dynamic wireless power transfer’ technologies.

Similar technology is being tested in a five-year trial in Milton Keynes, where electric buses will operate all day along a busy route, charging via electromagnetic coils buried in the road at the start and end of the route. According to Milton Keynes Council, 10 minutes parked over a coil will replenish two-thirds of the energy consumed by the bus’s route.

The newly announced trials in England will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions.

The trials are expected to begin later this year and will last for approximately 18 months. If successful, they could be followed by on-road trials.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities. The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector.

Mike Wilson, chief highways engineer at Highways England, said that vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever-increasing pace and the government agency is committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emission vehicles on England’s motorways and major A roads.

The off-road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country, he added.

As well as investigating the potential of wireless charging, Highways England has pledged to install plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network.

The trial of this technology is another bold move that ensures the UK remains a global leader in smart city development. If successful, the benefits to vehicle users and for emission reduction are clear. It may also represent a tipping point for vehicle manufacturers developing their offering in this space.“

Jeremy Godley , Associate Director

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