135-passenger electric bus that can be flash-charged in 15 seconds to be deployed in Geneva

ABB electric bus

Maybe the future of electric buses will look something like that...

There's no doubt that electrifying buses is a great idea in theory, but in practice, it's been challenging to figure out the best way to do it with current battery technology. Many variables have to be balanced out to get the best performance (battery pack weight & price/how often you charge for how long/etc). One intriguing approach comes from Europe: ABB, a Swiss company that specializes in robotics, has developed a "flash charging" method that it says can recharge a 135-passenger electric bus in 15 seconds during regular stops to allow passengers to get in and out.

As you can see in the video below, the 400-kilowatt station (!) is simply positioned overhead at some bus stops and connects via a laser-controlled moving arm. It can pump enough juicy in the battery to allow the bus to reach the next charging station. Longer stops at the end of each line can allow a full recharge.

ABB writes:

The new boost charging technology will be deployed for the first time on a large capacity electric bus, carrying as many as 135 passengers. The bus will be charged directly at selected stops with a 15-second energy boost while the passengers enter and leave the bus, based on a new type of automatic flash-charging mechanism. The pilot project runs between Geneva airport and the city’s international exhibition center, Palexpo.

ABB is planning a pilot project that will run between Geneva's airport and the city’s international exhibition center, Palexpo.

Update: Derek has also covered this technology here.


See also: German researchers create a lithium-ion battery that retains 85% of its capacity after 10,000 charges

Tags: Electric Vehicles | Transportation