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Electric buses surface on Britain's roads

Posting in Transportation

Eight electric buses are due to begin service in the U.K. this month as part of a five-year trial program to test the potential of wireless charging.

The buses will operate in Milton Keynes from late January, covering a 15 mile route between Wolverton and Bletchley. The service is estimated to carry approximately 800,000 passengers a year.

Each bus will be charged in a number of stages. After an overnight charge in the bus depot, the vehicles will be given boosts throughout the day at the start and end of the route. The buses will park at particular spots in the road, where plates buried underneath the surface will be connected to a bus's receiver plates. The plates have to stay in position for roughly ten minutes to transfer the power boost.

The process, called inductive charging, is a system where electricity is passed through wire coils in the road plates. This generates a magnetic field which induces voltage across coils in the bus's plates, therefore powering the vehicle's batteries.

John Bint of Milton Keynes Council told the BBC:

"Electric buses have huge potential and we're exploring how they can help us take better care of the environment without compromising passenger service. With the help of the project collaborators, we'll be monitoring the buses closely over the next five years."

The buses are the first of their kind in the United Kingdom. If the trial proves to a success, it could pave the way for new fleets powered by smaller, lighter batteries -- therefore reducing operating costs for firms and making the use of power for transport in the U.K. more efficient.

The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus and will operate for at least five years as part of a project led by engineering group Arup and Mitsui.

Via: BBC 

Image credit: Flickr

— By on January 9, 2014, 4:54 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure