Detroit tries out wireless charging for EVs, cars to draw power from streets as they drive

Soon, EV drivers can recharge their cars, while they drive them, by drawing power from the streets they are driving on. The city of Detroit, US, is trying out a novel wireless charger and receiver that can draw power through a network of charging coils, placed under the street surface

In a groundbreaking move, crews have completed the installation of what is being hailed as the nation’s inaugural wireless-charging public roadway for electric vehicles beneath a street located just west of downtown Detroit.

The innovative system utilizes copper inductive charging coils, allowing vehicles equipped with corresponding receivers to charge their batteries seamlessly while driving, idling, or parking directly above these coils.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has earmarked a quarter-mile stretch along 14th Street for testing and refining this cutting-edge technology before making it accessible to the public within the next few years.

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Demonstrations took place on Wednesday at the Michigan Central Innovation District, a focal point for advancing technologies and programs addressing mobility barriers. This district is also where Ford Motor Co. is actively restoring the historic Michigan Central train station to facilitate the development of self-driving vehicles.

The brainchild behind this technology is Electreon, an Israel-based developer specializing in wireless charging solutions for electric vehicles. With existing contracts for similar roadways in Israel, Sweden, Italy, and Germany, the pilot initiative in Michigan was originally announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2021.

Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s Vice President of Business Development, emphasized the potential of wireless charging in revolutionizing electric vehicle adoption, mitigating issues such as limited range, grid constraints, and battery size and costs. Tongur stated, “This project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future, where EVs are the norm, not the exception.”

As a vehicle with a receiver approaches the charging segments, the coils beneath the road generate electricity through a magnetic field, effectively charging the vehicle’s battery. Notably, the coils are designed to activate solely when a vehicle with a receiver passes over them.

Tongur reassured reporters that the wireless-charging roadway is safe for pedestrians, motorists, and animals alike.

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Electreon have committed to a five-year partnership to further develop the electric road system. The department is anticipated to seek bids for the reconstruction of a portion of the bustling Michigan Avenue, where inductive charging will also be implemented.

With the rising popularity of electric vehicles in the United States, the Biden administration has incorporated plans for half a million EV charging stations as a cornerstone of its infrastructure goals.

Officials believe that the installation of the wireless-charging roadway positions Michigan and Detroit at the forefront of electric vehicle technology. Michigan DOT Director Bradley C. Wieferich expressed the state’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve and leading in electric vehicle advancements.

Stefan Tongur mentioned that no decisions have been finalized regarding revenue models in Michigan, emphasizing the intelligence of the technology in recognizing verified and authentic users who can seamlessly access charging services.

(With input from agenices)

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