Video From July, two electric buses will travel back and forth along the 24km road from Gumi station, but they won't need to recharge as induction loops along the route will top up the battery as they roll.
The technology is coming from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and is little more than an extensive field trial. It should see electric buses able to drive around without relying on huge batteries or overhead wires, and while installation is expensive the technology could make electric cars viable too.
Wireless charging for vehicles is something various companies have played with, but just like wireless charging for electronics it only starts to address the problem when the charging points multiply to the point of ubiquity. Placing a phone on a pad, or parking a car in a specific spot, is not much easier than plugging in a cable, but if the charging can take place during normal use then things do change.
Korea will be using a home-grown OLEV (On-Line Electric Vehicle) technology on its two buses, but Qualcomm has the same idea in mind for its Halo charging technology which will start off with its Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) later this year with special parking spaces around London's Silicon Roundabout. WEVC's stated aim is to eventually get itself embedded into the road surface to recharge cars as they drive.
Such cars wouldn't be limited to driving on the special roads, they'd depend on batteries the rest of the time, but embed charging into the M25 and you could be sure of everyone in London getting a couple of hours charging daily.
Delivering power to a moving vehicle might seem an overburdening infrastructure cost, but in fact it makes a good deal more sense than carrying one's fuel around all the time. Last year Siemens announced it would be fitting pantographs (a wonderful word, referring to the sprung connector usually seen atop a tram or train that collects power from an overhead cantenary wire) to trucks to be deployed along special stretches of California highway, which would sport overhead cables for their use.
Overhead cables are quicker to fit, but expensive to maintain and one would need a huge pantograph on the top of a car to reach a catenary designed for 18-wheelers, so embedding the technology into the road starts to make more sense.
Qualcomm certainly thinks so, and will be sponsoring Drayson Racing for next year's Formula E competition to promote both road-embedded and stationary charging, to let everyone know that electric cars can be cool, just as long as you don't listen too hard to the engine: