Combine the convenience of a wireless electric vehicle charging station with the safety and inconspicuousness of a manhole cover. This is the vision of HEVO (Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Optimization), and it’s made the company a semifinalist for the SAFE Emerging Innovation Award. Noting the problems typically associated with EV charging, such as vandalism, faulty connectors, and the inconvenience of plugging in and paying, HEVO set out to make charging a car, or a fleet of cars, as simple as parking.

In the model that HEVO is set to roll out in NYC early next year, vehicles simply park as usual over a HEVO station, which is installed underneath the road and protected by what seems to be a manhole cover. Its resemblance to a manhole is not as much camouflage (though it is certainly inconspicuous on the street) as it is form following function. The durable resin cover, rated to 25,000 PSI, protects the unit and all its associated electronics from the elements, and easily gives electric vehicles the alignment and proximity to the wireless charger.

A driver wishing to use a HEVO charger needs two things to interact with the system: a wireless receiver on their car, which won’t be available from HEVO, and HEVO’s free app. The app offers several things. Most importantly, it serves as the payment interface, removing the need to install numerous kiosks, but will also provide utilization information and a tool to guide drivers into an optimal alignment with the charger.

For those of you wondering about the safety of the wireless system, nervously imagining parts of your car or self becoming “wirelessly charged," HEVO offers a FAQ addressing various questions of safety and operational issues. Though it doesn’t recommend lying on the charger for hours, the company says the device has a minimal EMI rating and is safe. The system also detects foreign metallic objects that may become heated, and lowers the power or interrupts charging.

You could start to see HEVO charging stations in your city or company parking lot beginning in 2014.

The video below provides an animated demonstration of the EV charging system.

Source: HEVO via Wired