If batteries did not weigh or cost so much, most drivers might be wheeling electric vehicles by now.
A new Utah State University technology could overcome this barrier to electrically powered transport. How? By transferring power through the air, from charging pads embedded in a road to a vehicle’s undercarriage 10 inches above, minimizing the need for on-board power storage.
This fall a USU start-up company will test the economic viability of such as wireless power transfer, or WPT, in the shuttle bus system at the University of Utah. Fueled with a federal grant, the U. is installing charging pads at bus stops and buying new electric buses to supplement its 28-bus fleet of diesel and compressed natural gas-powered vehicles.
"If it’s viable here, it would be viable on campuses elsewhere. We want to be a national model. It has to be safe and it has to run," said Alma Allred, the U.’s director of commuter services. "We are a research institution. We want to be in the forefront of technology that reduces the need for fossil fuels. We want to reduce emissions."