Refueling an electric car may someday be as simple as finding a parking spot.
Siemens, in cooperation with BMW, has developed a technology that allows electric cars to be recharged wirelessly. The system, presented at the 2011 Hannover Messe tech show, will undergo testing in Berlin as part of a project funded by the German Environment Ministry.
Similar to a technology being tested by Google, the experimental charging stations supply power to the battery through a process known as inductive charging in which energy is transferred from a ground-based electromagnetic coil to one attached to the bottom of the car. Simply pulling in to park the vehicle brings the two parts close enough to induce charging.
Siemens says on its web site that the charging stations can be "easily incorporated into practically any setting, making them nearly invisible and effectively protecting them against vandalism and wear and tear." The cars can also be recharged at 90 percent the efficiency of plug-in stations.
This means that existing parking lots can be retrofitted with the technology so that car owners have the convenience of being able to leave their cars unattended while it gets juiced up. And if the system is widely adopted, drivers wouldn't need to constantly recharge at designated refueling stations.
Testing will begin a May with a 3.6 kilowatt prototype, with more trials slated for June to determine which improvements are needed to allow the system to work in real-life settings.
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