Inductive Charging - Unplug & Drive!
Inductive charging is gaining a lot of momentum lately and has attracted a lot of investors. There was news on the famous HaloIPT being acquired by QualComm in the UK, a lot of applicationsin small consumer electronics that are picking up pace and finally a follow up of the inductive charged bus from PROOV here in the Netherlands.
HaloIPT goes to QualComm
The news that HaloIPT was bought by QualComm should be no surprise given the activities and ambitions of QualComm. HaloIPT complemented that with their excellent knowhow in wireless charging. HaloIPT is originally from New Zealand, but they had a strong presence in the United Kingdom. Earlier on HaloIPT was working with Rolls Royce to provide wireless charging on luxury cars. Rolls has launched the prototype and test bed for their electric vehicle operation, though I'm not sure if the wireless charging is still part of the testing platform. Since the take-over, QualComm has announced an ambitious pilot plan for London to install wireless chargers in London and have a fleet of 50 vehicles that is able to utilise these chargers. A decent fleet and bigger than most other fleets out there in the wild using inductive charging.
Consumer Electronics losing Wires
After losing network cables and cable to transfer data between consumer electronics, a lot of effort now goes to get rid of the last cable: the power cords to charge your portable consumer electronics. Think of laptops, mobile phones and MP3 players. Where in the early days, a remote for your television was the way to transfer a signal (or data) wirelessly, nowadays a wireless network can be found at the corner of every street. The only thing that remained was the cord to recharge your device, but with the introduction of inductive charge pads for these mobile devices, those cords are slowly becoming a thing of the past. The idea is that your devices will be fitted with an inductive (internal) coil, which, when placed on the charging pad, can pass along the electricity wirelessly. No more looking for the right cable, or having a clutter of cables on your desk, just put the devices all on the pad and they will charge. It is not widespread yet, but expect your next phone in a year from now to have this as a standard feature. Also check out the talk of Eric Giller from WiTricity during TED.
Inductive buses in the Netherlands 2.0
For quite some time the city where I live, Utrecht, has done a test with an inductive bus. The bus was taken, or rather, borrowed from the Italian city of [name] and put into service on the smallest bus route in our city. It had one charging spot along the route where it would charge for a few minutes, before it would proceed for the next service. Despite being regarded as a success by the local government, the pilot was ended with no follow-up. The companies involved (PROOV, Conductix Wampfler and All Green Vehicles) however felt the urge to continue with this technology and will be launching the next generation induction bus by the end of this year in the Dutch city of Den Bosch. It is not sure how long this stage will take, but it seems another pilot of sorts before all our buses will be using this technology, in the mean time, PROOV will collect more usage data to make it a success.
Unplug & Drive!
So all in all exciting times in the inductive charging arena. Next year we'll see 50 charging stations using the inductive technology in London, your next mobile phone might get it an inductive coil by default and the future buses will also use it. Where the period after 1995 was the era of Windows 95 and Plug & Play (remember when USB was a unique selling point?), the next few years for the electric vehicle will be Unplug & Drive!