Demonstration electric car draws energy from the road

Sep 14, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

( -- Students in Germany have built the "E-Quickie," a three-wheeled electric car that draws energy wirelessly from electric conducting paths on the ground.

New wireless charging technologies are appearing regularly these days, such as a wireless charging mat for charging while they are parked (see the PhysOrg article), but the new car takes its energy wirelessly from the road.

Mechanical engineering and mechatronics students from the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA) built the experimental car to test the practicality of the wireless technology. The car is propelled by an electrical hub drive, with energy drawn from conducting tracks on the ground via electrical induction. The receivers are fitted to the underside of the car, and there are small onboard batteries, which serve as a buffer for times when the car leaves the tracks.

The conducting track was supplied by the company SEW-Eurodrive, based in Bruchsal. The components of the car were designed and built by the 14 students using carbon fiber for the vehicle body and high-tech materials for the chassis and braking and steering systems. The design was fully tested and optimized by computer in a “virtual wind channel” before the car was actually built.


The car resembles a reclining bicycle with the driver inside a capsule. It weighs only 60 kg, but the team hopes to reduce the weight to 40 kg in future. Head of the project, Professor Jürgen Walter, of the and Mechatronics faculty at the university, said the team were aiming for a driver:vehicle weight ratio of 2:1, while for most vehicles the ratio is between 1:10 and 1:15.

The lightweight design means the car can reach 50 km/h, even with its 2 kW motor. The car has successfully completed 40 laps on a 222-meter-long conductor track at the university, and the team plans to continue using the track to optimize the E-Quickie. They are also planning test drives from the university to the nearby castle and another university campus in the town.

Professor Walter said the principle used by the car is not really new, but it could be used much more widely than it is at present. Industry could operate internal transport vehicles in this way for example, he said, but the students also wanted to demonstrate that wireless transfer of is also suitable for mass transit applications.


Explore further: Going nuts? Turkey looks to pistachios to heat new eco-city

More information: Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences:

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User comments : 10

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3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2010
After this they plan to put a pin on the front of the car that will fit inside a slot in the road.
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2010
No mention of efficiency? Inductive wireless transmission tends to negate the benefits of using an electric car in the first place because it wastes so much energy.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2010
Human Scalextric any1!
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2010
No mention of efficiency? Inductive wireless transmission tends to negate the benefits of using an electric car in the first place because it wastes so much energy.

At first glance this is true. But that is only if you don't count the energy required in transporting the batteries. In addition, a car built on these principals would theoretically have an infinite range, running as long as it was in reach of the wireless transfer.

While this system may now be inefficient as you suggest, its likely that at some point, the balance will go the other way.
not rated yet Sep 14, 2010
I'm positive too that the induction could be localized to sections in the road of specific length so that the road is somehow aware of the presence of one or more vehicles and supplies power only to active sections.
5 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2010
With my velomobile, without electric motor, I also ride 50 km/h, a few weeks ago I made a trip of 283 km in one day, which is nothing special for a velomibile.
The 24 hour record is about 1209 km - only manpower!
5 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2010
Wireless power transfer should be ~85% efficient in this configuration; the efficiency drops off at larger ranges, but provided you're less than a coil diameter or so that's roughly achievable.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2010
You also have long strips of powered road that are not being used at any given time, radiating energy to the surroundings, or just running on standby and waiting for cars to come by.

While the idea might be sound, the infrastructure isn't.
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2010
What is the difference between this and induction heating ?
Will it make the iron in your blood to get heated up / conduct electricity too and burn you inside out ?
The concept of "wireless" power seems way to risky to me, esp. if any living thing is around it.
not rated yet Sep 19, 2010
You also have long strips of powered road that are not being used at any given time, radiating energy to the surroundings, or just running on standby and waiting for cars to come by.

As noted above it would be very simple to give the car a small transmitter that simply sends an "I am here" signal to the road and then onle the relevant road section is supplied with electricity. Depending on how close the car hugs the road the stray radiation losses are extremely small (though induction certainly is less efficient than having batteries on board)

My question would be: Does it work in wet weather? Ice? Snow? How large is the energy density/power needed for packed roads? ...

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