Detroit has done it again. 120 years ago, the Motor City changed the world when cars began to roll off the assembly lines, empowering Americans to go on the move.
More recently, the city is again showing that it’s at the forefront of automotive innovation. For the first time anywhere in the world, you can charge your electric vehicle wirelessly by simply driving over the road.
“Automatically, it knows who you are and charges you while you drive or while you stand still wirelessly without a plug without anything. And it’s seamless with your driving behavior,” Stefan Tongur, Ph. D., Vice President of Business Development at Electreon told CBS News.
Welcome to the future.
A blue electric Ford E-Transit commercial van was able to charge as it moved over a quarter-mile stretch of newly paved 14th Street, a short distance from the towering Michigan Central Station, thanks to rubber-coated copper coils buried underneath the road surface, writes The Detroit Free Press.
A large video screen set up for the occasion outside Newlab, the rehabilitated Book Depository, showed the kilowatts generated and the speed as the van made its passes on the street. Those numbers would fluctuate as the van moved along, 16 kw and 9 mph at one point, with the van at a 63% charge.
“It may seem small now, but it’s a huge step” in getting this to scale, Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central, the Ford subsidiary running a “mobility innovation district” in Corktown, said before the demonstration began. “The implications are truly staggering.”
Not just any electric vehicle can pick up a charge just yet on 14th Street. The van was equipped with a special receiver to take the charge. The coils themselves are underneath the road surface, but a small section of the road was left unpaved to show how the coated coils would lie flat underneath. Two large boxes were positioned on the sidewalk to manage the coils.
The collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation and Electreon, a company from Israel and a member of Newlab, along with a number of other partners, plans to construct a mile of inductive-charging roadway in the Motor City in 2025. Electreon has already begun similar projects in several other countries such as Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, China, and Israel.
In the future, pit stops during a road trip may become a thing of the past, but you’ll still have to go to the bathroom.