The wirelessly charged electric bus…is this the end of electric vehicle charging stations?

There will shortly be a revolutionary type of bus on the roads. In July this year, two On-line Electric Vehicles (OLEVs) will carry passengers on a 24km route in the Korean city of Gumi. This will be the first time in the world that OLEV technology will be used on normal, everyday roads.

The OLEV buses, developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, receive power wirelessly via an electromagnetic field broadcast from cables installed under the road. The power not only drives the vehicle, but also charges an onboard battery that kicks in if the vehicle is out of range of the wireless power supply.

The external supply of power has many advantages over standard electric vehicle design. An OLEV vehicle needs only 1/5th the battery capacity of a standard electric vehicle, and it can achieve 80% transmission efficiency. And of course, because it powers as-it-goes, it doesn’t need constant visits to recharging stations.

The KAIST OLEV was recently named one of the 10 most promising technologies in the world for 2013 by the World Economic Forum (WEF, DAVOS Forum), and was named one of the Top 50 inventions by Time Magazine in 2010.