UK to trial on-the-go charging for electric vehicles

Despite on-going improvements in battery technology, the uptake of electric vehicles is still hampered by so-called “range anxiety”: the fear that a vehicle will run out of power before its destination is reached.

In an effort to address this, Highways England – the organisation formerly known as the Highways Agency – is planning off-road trials of so-called Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) technology that will allow vehicles to charge whilst on the move.

The announcement of the trials – which according to a spokesman are due to take place at some point within the next 18 months – follows the completion of a Highways England feasibility study into the technology which suggests that charging-on-the-go would help encourage EV adoption by both businesses and private motorists

The trials will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions. They are expected to last for approximately 18 months and, subject to the results, could be followed by on-road trials.

Highways England is now inviting tenders from technology firms keen to get involved in the project, and said that it hopes to be able to announce technical partners before the end of the year.

As previously reported by The Engineer a number of wireless charging systems are already under development. Qualcomm Europe has been trialling its Halo inductive charging technology with a number of partners over the last few years, whilst Bombardier’s Primove wireless charging technology is now being rolled out at several test sites in Europe.  

Commenting on the potential of the technology Highways England Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said: “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.”