Intelligent Energy

British race team fast tracks on-the-go electric charging

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No pit stops for Drayson Racing, which will charge electric cars as they race around the track over wireless power strips provided by HaloIPT.

A British race car team will soon begin testing a technology that charges electric vehicles as they drive along the raceway.

So called “dynamic” or “on-the-go” charging could provide a panacea for the range anxiety that afflicts drivers of EVs, because if deployed on public highways, it would eliminate the need to stop and and charge every 100 miles or so.

Drayson Racing Technologies, a green motor racing company based in Kidlington near Oxford, England, has agreed to co-develop a dynamic charging system with HaloIPT, a London-based wireless charging company backed by international engineering firm Arup and by a commercial unit of the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Drayson and HaloIPT will embed power strips embedded under a racetrack that will wirelessly deliver power to a car’s electric battery while the car zips along.

“Motor racing is the ideal environment to fast-track the development of this promising technology and to prove its effectiveness,” said Drayson Racing co-founder Lord Paul Drayson in a joint press release with HaloIPT. “This is a milestone innovation that will have a dramatic effect not just on racing but on the mainstream auto industry. We’re looking forward to putting this technology through its paces as it charges electric race cars at speeds of up to 200 mph.”

The companies claimed in the release that HaloIPT’s technology tolerates misalignment over the transmitter pads that can typically occur in a driving situation.

Neither company said when they might start actual tests of the technology, or exactly where. Last spring, HaloIPT said it hopes to start testing on-the-go charging in Auckland within a year, and at a UK motor industry proving ground by Septmember, 2012. At the time it did not mention Drayson as a dynamic charging partner.

HaloIPT licenses “inductive power transfer” technology (that’s the “IPT” in its name) from the University of Auckland. Its partners include Rolls Royce, which is trialing HaloIPT stationary charging on a prototype electric version of its Phantom luxury vehicle, and the UK’s Chargemaster, which recently agreed to manufacturer HaloIPT’s wireless charging pads. Chargemaster is the UK’s largest provider of cabled charging bays. Evida Power, a San Francisco lithium ion battery company, is also considering making HaloIPT charging systems.

HaloIPT’s competitors inwireless electric vehicle charging include MIT spin-off WiTricity; German industrial giant Siemens; two smaller German firms Conductix-Wampfler, and VAHLE; and South Korea’s Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Google has also demonstrated the technology.

Photo: Drayson Racing via Endurance-Info.com

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure