Purely electric cars haven’t exactly set the world on fire yet, the main reason being the lack of recharging infrastructure. But in the future, you may be able to charge your electric car while it’s speeding down the highway, the juice provided by road coils embedded in the road.
Magnetic resonance coupling is a way of transmitting power wirelessly using two coils of metal wire that have been tuned to resonate at the same natural frequency. Think of it like a speaker placed next to a wine glass: if you hit the right pitch with the speaker, the wine glass will begin to resonate with it, wirelessly converting energy from the speaker into mechanical motion. You can do the same sort of thing with coils of wire, except using magnetic fields to transmit electricity instead of using sound to transmit mechanical energy.
What a research team at Stanford wants to do is to embed these resonating coils into roadways, with other coils in the bottom of your car, so that whenever you were driving you’d also be constantly receiving a charge. The resonating system will function at distances of up to six feet, and the peak efficiency is about 97%, which is pretty damn good. Oh, and the reason that your car won’t explode (and why you’d be able to walk on an actively resonating road and not get fried) is that unless something is resonating at the exact same frequency as a coil, it’s entirely unaffected. You can even walk between two coils that are transmitting power safely.
This idea looks fantastic on paper: if all highways have continuous charging systems, you’d never have range anxiety. You could drive anywhere without stopping for gas. Power generation could be distributed in eco-friendly ways. Also, since highways would have these coils running down the center of each lane, GPS accuracy could be improved to tell your car which lane it’s in, opening up opportunities for increased safety and autonomous operation.
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