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Korean electric vehicle solution


August 20, 2009

KAIST Online Electric Vehicle uses non-contact magnetic charging to draw its power needs from beneath the surface of the road

KAIST Online Electric Vehicle uses non-contact magnetic charging to draw its power needs from beneath the surface of the road

Image Gallery (5 images)

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed an electric transport system where the vehicles get their power needs from cables underneath the surface of the road via non-contact magnetic charging. As well as potentially saving Koreans a lot of money by reducing crude oil imports, widespread adoption of the technology also offers the potential of improving air quality in currently polluted cities.

The drive towards adoption of the electric vehicle as a popular and viable means of transport is beginning to highlight a few potential road blocks which may not be enough to halt progress but may require some inventive thinking. Limitations on battery size and power, the issue of battery weight, the range of an electric vehicle between charges, how long it takes to recharge the batteries, and not forgetting the availability of charging points and who foots the bill - all currently hot topics in the world of electric vehicle creation.

There's also a resource issue waiting in the wings to raise its problematic head some time soon. As more vehicles become reliant on drawing their power from batteries, supplies of the compounds and metals on which they are based may become less and less readily available. Dwindling stocks of things like lithium could start to command increasingly high prices and lead to electric vehicles pricing themselves out of the automotive marketplace.

Scratching the surface

Thankfully solutions are already being offered, such as the Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) from KAIST. Rather than relying on battery technology, the OLEV picks up charge using a non-contact magnetic charging method (where a power source is placed underneath the road surface and power is wirelessly picked up on the vehicle itself) so it doesn't matter if the car is moving or parked up, it still receives power.

In February 2009 KAIST researchers illustrated that it is possible for a vehicle to receive up to 80% power conveyance with a 1cm gap between the vehicle and the power line. A subsequent test drive of the technology (see gallery) was attended by dignitaries and government officials, including Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and provided the researchers with an opportunity to promote the concept.

As a possible solution to traffic congestion and to improve overall efficiency by minimizing air resistance and so reduce energy consumption, the test vehicles followed the power track in a convoy formation. It's thought that road safety and vehicle efficiency could be enhanced further by adopting technology that would allow the OLEV to drive itself in convoy mode, something recently discussed by the c,mm,n project.

By bus too

In July 2009 the researchers successfully supplied up to 60% power to a bus over a gap of 12cm from a power line embedded in the ground using power supply and pick up technology developed in-house.

It is thought that if only half of the Koreans currently on the road switched to the OLEV system, the country could reduce its imports of crude oil by 35 billion barrels per year, saving an estimated USD$3 billion. Thanks to the positive reception the technology has received at recent demonstrations, KAIST has set up a company to take care of activities which will hopefully see the systems through to commercial production and release, and possible future export.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Interesting but hardly new. Sounds like the DMET (Dual Mode Electric Transportation) vehicle that was running at a test track at UC-Lawrence Berkeley Lab and other places in California more than 30 years ago. There was all sorts of interesting alternative energy and transportation work being done after the oil shock of 1979, much of which went away when oil prices came back down in the 80s.


United States Patent 4,007,817 Bolger, Jr. February 15, 1977 Roadway for supplying power to vehicles and method of using the same

United States Patent 4,331,225 Bolger May 25, 1982 Power control system for electrically driven vehicle

Steven Sidman

nothing obvious on the KAST site about the magnetic coupling. There is also recent news from the USA of success in this area. But there's a lot to be done going from %0 efficiency at one centmeter to the practical distances needed. We just can't get nearly that close with the wire under the surface, and any practical vehicle's ground clearance. At least magentic coupling does not set up a massive EMF and subject everyone to it. It does have to be exactly resonant at the reception. This means very close control of the quality, and issues of interoperability are not hard to anticipate, between operating the vehicle on different street s with differing frequency. Like the open cell phone standards precludes GSM on CDMA systems. And the eternal question: "where's the meter?" and this has implications of unwanted monitoring and surveilance and "control issues" that I can see being very hot topics here in the ol' U. S. of A....All that said, it sure would be a kicken public access infrastructure!!!


waltinseattle - there's a bit more information on the magnetic charging system here:


but not much!


1>what are the properties of road so that flux can come out and receive by pickup coil in VEHICLE? 2>Is that different from other road?

Rishi Kesh
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