'Dynamic charging' might let electric race cars juice up while moving
By Ben Coxworth
July 26, 2011
As some Gizmag readers will already know, the new technical regulations for Formula One racing state that cars must move under electrical power only when in the pit lanes. Eyebrow-raising though that may be, two companies are currently collaborating on technology that would see cars being powered by electric motors for the entire race. Instead of looking at ultra-powerful batteries or three-hour recharging pit stops, however, they're taking another approach - they propose that the cars could wirelessly receive power from transmitters embedded in the track.
Known as "Dynamic Charging," the system is being developed by inductive power transfer firm HaloIPT and Drayson Racing Technologies. HaloIPT has already created inductive charging systems for stationary passenger vehicles, in which the car's battery is charged while the car sits parked over an in-road power transmitter. In the racing version of the technology, the cars' batteries would be charged on the fly, from a series of such transmitters located in the asphalt around the track - a system that has also been proposed for passenger vehicles, by engineering company Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr.
The technology reportedly is tolerant of misalignments between battery and transmitter, and can "intelligently" distribute power evenly between a number of transmitters.
"Dynamic wireless charging will be a real game-changer, enabling zero emission electric vehicles to race over long periods without the need for heavy batteries," said Lord Paul Drayson, co-founder of Drayson Racing. "We're looking forward to putting this technology through its paces as it charges electric race cars at speeds of up to 200 mph."
Although it only managed a speed of 31 mph (50 kph), the experimental E-Quickie vehicle has already demonstrated that such technology has potential. Built by students at Germany's Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, last May the three-wheeled car completed 40 laps of a conductor track, from which it drew its power.