The government has announced that it will conduct trials of technologies that could create ‘electric highways’ to power vehicles as they travel.
The tests have been given the go-ahead after a feasibility study commissioned by Highways England focusing on ‘dynamic wireless power transfer’ suggested that there is merit in undertaking real-world tests.
The trials will take place on test roads but will aim to mimic the conditions found on A roads and motorways. The tests are likely to begin later this year and run for 18 months.
The location has yet to be confirmed as a contractor has not yet been appointed, but the government will release more information once this is done. If the tests prove successful, the government could run real-road tests afterwards.
Dynamic wireless power transfer essentially works by charging vehicles as they travel via road-side charging units that link to conduction or wireless charges under the road that connect to cars as they pass (see image below).
Transport minister Andrew Jones explained that testing the potential for electric highways holds many “exciting possibilities”.
“As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses,” he said.
Highways England chief highways engineer Mike Wilson added: “Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emission vehicles on England’s motorways and major A roads.
“The off road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country.”
Future car technologies are increasingly popping up on the government's agenda, such as driverless cars after the go-ahead was given to test machines in four UK cities: Greenwich (below), Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry.
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