Posting in Cities
A Dutch design concept promises to rid electric bus fleets of range anxiety woes by charging buses wirelessly as they pick up passengers.
While electric vehicles are still a small portion of the auto market in most countries, many cities have been looking to integrate electric vehicles into their public transit networks. London recently unveiled a hybrid version of its double-decker Routemaster bus.
But, as the Routemaster discovered in its first few days on the road, battery life is a severe constraint on electric public transit vehicles, which normally need to interrupt their routes to recharge.
Enter the ATC Solar Curve Bus Stop concept. Developed by Studio Mango for the city of Noord-Brabant, in the Netherlands, the system would install inductive charging technology at existing bus stops, enabling electric buses to recharge each time they stop to pick up passengers.
The developers would install around 15.5 meters of solar panels on top of the bus stop's roof, which would convert sunlight to solar power throughout the day. The curved roof would both protect passengers from the elements and tilt down to enable wireless energy transfer to buses as they pulled up under the overhang. This energy transfer would occur using inductive charging, which employs an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects.
Once the charging was completed, green LED lights at the bus stop would alert the driver to continue on his/her way.
No word on when the concept might be implemented, but this could prove to be an effective solution to our electric-bus-charging woes.
Photos: Studio Mango
Related video on SmartPlanet:
Feb 20, 2012
I see nothing wrong with having a plug of direct connection. Such things would need to be locked down to prevent vandalism, but so will the inductive systems. The shelters would need to be attached to the main grid and the solar power collected would be used to offset the power consumed. As an alternative, you could have a power pack swap of some kind. The side or bottom of the bus is opened, the pack removed, a fully charged one inserted, and you are off. Packs would only swap when the one in the charger has sufficiently more juice than the one on the bus. A well timed system could easily swap out the packs in well under a minute if not a fraction thereof.
The strength of the charging signal required for an overhead charger in this setup will be strong enough and close enough to interfere with passengers pacemakers. The shielding required adds too much to the weight of the vehicle. Ground mounted wireless chargers are actually more dangerous than an electrified third rail.
That's actually a good-looking (and hopefully effective) design. It's economical in size and again hopefully, in cost. Imagine a fleet of electric buses replacing the gas guzzlers that shuttle people around. We can save massive amounts of oil and we make a huge impact on the environment. Juan Miguel Ruiz http://www.GreenJoyment.com
Battery packs make sense because of the extended lack of sunlight issue. They can be swapped out at far fewer intervals than at every stop, probably at the beginning point of a route. A minimum number of places to swap battery packs also translates to a choice of machines or people to do the work rather than being forced to use machines. There can still be solar panels on the shelter roofs, but they will feed power into the municipal grid rather than be an isolated system.
Why not a plug? They could do this same setup with an automated umbilical cord going into a roof top charging port like in flight refueling for planes, but reversed. Sensors could guide general alignment and a simple funnel like design could slid the plug into place. A modified NATO standard charging adaptor used by the military, or something comparable, would work.