TECH

UK To Test Motorway That Can Wirelessly Charge Cars As They Drive

12/08/2015 14:53 BST | Updated 12/08/2015 15:59 BST

The UK Highways Agency has unveiled ambitious plans to trial an innovative new motorway technology that could wirelessly charge electric and hybrid cars as they're driving.

Electric cars are absolutely the future, there's no doubting that. What they all suffer from though is range.

bmw i3

Cars like the BMW i3 offer a mix between electric power a 'range-extending' petrol generator which charges the battery.

While hybrids and plug-in hybrids alleviate this by offering up a petrol backup the fact is that they're all underpinned with conventional batteries - which frankly suck.

To combat this the UK already has a nationwide fast-charging network which allows owners of electric cars and hybrids to stop either mid-route or at the end of their journey to quickly charge up while away from their own plug socket.

The initiative has been a success with multiple organisations now offering a unified network which can be accessed through an annual membership. You can even tap into other people's home chargers if they sign up.

Despite all of this, the simple fact is that you're never going to get from Scotland to Cornwall using a Tesla in one trip, and that's a problem.

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The Highways Agency has since run a feasibility study on alternative ways to solve the current 'range anxiety' crisis and sure enough, wireless charging appeared at the top of the list.

motorway

If successful, the trial will move onto live motorways.

The 'off road' trial will involve building a stretch of road with wireless chargers underneath and then outfitting electric vehicles with the wireless charging technology needed to make it work.

It's expected to last around 18 months and should the tests be successful the Highways Agency will start running live trials on actual roads.