Fully Charged checks out a public demonstration of a dynamic induction charging roadway.
Folks have been talking about wireless electric vehicle charging for some time now, and most of the time I've never really understood the point. After all, wireless charging of anything involves inherent inefficiencies, and if we can design a car that drives by itself, surely we can design one that also plugs itself in when it's done. (Preferably in a non-creepy fashion!)
That said, where wireless charging seems to make more sense—at least to my technically challenged brain—would be in situations where stopping to charge would be detrimental to your journey. Charging buses at bus stops, for example, may help extend their range, and the idea of a road that constantly topped up your car as you drive would certainly eliminate range anxiety on road trips.
This latter idea appears to be getting closer to reality. In fact Qualcomm recently demonstrated a 100 meter (328 ft) long strip of roadway that has been fitted with induction charging plates, and showed that it could deliver a 20kW of charge to two Renault Kangoo vans, driving at up to 110 km/h (68mph). Of course, 100 meters of driving is not going to give you a meaningful amount of power, but eventually, the hope is that several miles of roadway could deliver a significant boost in overall range.
Robert Llewellyn recently took his Fully Charged show to witness the demonstration. It's certainly interesting, and encouraging, but there's not much talk about how efficient it is. Robert does tell us that the system is only "on" when there's a vehicle driving on it, but how much energy is lost to the air? Certainly, commenters on Fully Charged's YouTube channel are deeply, deeply skeptical. After all, how long will it be before cars that have 400 or 500 mile ranges make the problem of stopping a fairly moot point? Still, the developers themselves are fairly transparent: This is a research project being used to test feasibility. It won't be arriving on our highways any time soon.
Check it out. It's deeply fascinating. And if you like what you see, please consider supporting Fully Charged through Patreon.