This article was published on January 17, 2022

Energy harvesting roads turn weird science into commercial applications

Roads are the latest electric vehicle charging infrastructure


Energy harvesting roads turn weird science into commercial applications
Cate Lawrence
Story by

Cate Lawrence

Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart ci Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart cities, and the future of alternative energy sources like electric batteries, solar, and hydrogen.

ElectReon (Israel)

ElectReon is an Israeli firm developing an in-road inductive charging system.

How it works:

  • Its charging solution powers EVs from electrical fields generated by copper coils under the asphalt
  • A management unit transfers the energy from the electricity grid to the road infrastructure and manages communication with approaching vehicles
  • Receivers are installed on the vehicles’ floor to transmit the energy directly to battery while driving
electric road
The charging coils before covered with asphalt. Image source.

In December, the company launched an E-bus shuttle, charged by Germany’s first wireless electric road system, which powers a bus line between a training center in Karlsruhe and the local public transport system.

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The wireless charging lessens the electrical grid connections needed at bus facilities. It also reduces vehicle battery reliance, size, and weight. Not to mention that charging while on the go brings down fleet vehicle downtime and enables extended operational hours.

Elonroad (Sweden)

Elonroad creates charging infrastructure for all-electric vehicles. It’s both an electric road solution for charging while driving and an automatic park charger without cables. It works in cities, highways, parking spaces, and taxi lines.

EV bus charging
When an approved electric vehicle approaches the electric road, charging is started automatically by short-circuiting segments of the rails (1) and making contact with lowered pantographs under the vehicle (2), which charge the vehicle’s batteries (3). When the vehicle leaves the electric road, it goes back to battery operation. Image source.

The company mounts conductive power strips on top of roads. A conductive pick-up under the vehicle connects to the electric rail, creating bus stop charging and in-motion charging for vehicles with access permission through a wireless system. 

Then, the road connects to a server that identifies each vehicle. The energy delivered from each segment is measured, and the energy provider bills the right amount to each customer.

Underground Power (Italy)

speed bumps
Energy harvesting speed bumps. Image source.

Underground Power is an Italian company that creates smart speed bumps. Tire-like rubber paving converts the kinetic energy produced by moving vehicles into electric energy. 

This helps cars respect the speed limits and retrieves the kinetic energy wasted during the deceleration.

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