Researchers are testing out a highway to charge your EV while you drive

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Researchers are testing out a highway to charge your EV while you drive
Professor John Haddock and graduate student Oscar Moncada examine a slab of concrete pavement they tested to handle heavy truckloads with wireless power-transfer technology installed below the surface.Photo provided by Consensus Digital Media
  • Indiana researchers are testing out a highway that can wirelessly charge electric vehicles.
  • They say their technology is so powerful that it can even charge an electric semitruck.
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One of the biggest downsides of owning an electric vehicle is having to stop and charge it, but a group of researchers out of Indiana wants to change that.

The solution? Highways that can wirelessly charge your EV while you drive, even at high speeds.

Engineers at Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation announced last week that they're developing a section of highway that could charge electric vehicles, even electric semitrucks, while they drive at 65 mph.

Researchers are testing out a highway to charge your EV while you drive
Purdue University engineers John Haddock (left), Nadia Gkritza, Dionysios Aliprantis and Steve Pekarek are testing the technology.Purdue University photo/Vincent Walter

Construction begins Monday on the quarter-mile test section of US Route 231/Route 52 in West Lafayette, Indiana, the university said in a press release.

The patent-pending technology works like this: Engineers install transmitter coils beneath the highway pavement, and those coils send energy through a magnetic field to receiver coils that must be installed on the bottoms of the electric vehicles.

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Because a successful wireless charge requires vehicles to have a receiver coil, manufacturers would have to build that capability into their products, or EV owners would need to retrofit their vehicles with the device.

Other wireless EV charging systems like this one do exist, but Purdue's is unique because it has enough power to charge semitrucks, the researchers said.

Though other roads have been electrified (like one in Detroit), this project marks the first time it's being tested both on a highway and on electric semitrucks.

The pilot program is set to begin testing the technology in May 2025 after the installation is finished. During the testing phase, the researchers will study what happens if a vehicle doesn't drive right over the coils, how inclement weather affects the charging process, and whether cracks in the pavement cause a problem, Fast Company reported.

The team said it hoped to electrify a section of an Indiana interstate within the next four or five years.

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