Utah State University in the US has demonstrated its prototype Aggie Bus, an electric transport vehicle that features inductive charging abilities. It can be charged automatically from powered plates in the ground, which could technically be installed at every stop the bus visits.
Having been road tested successfully last month, with 16 passengers on board, Aggie is to undergo its first commercial demonstration in mid-2013 on the University of Utah's campus. It is being fully developed by Wave, a Utah State University spin-off company, and is genuinely believed to be a viable alternative to current eco and non-eco-friendly options.
No physical contact is made between the bus and the floor-set power plate, and the next step in the testing process will feature a 40-foot bus on a public transit route and an increase in wireless power transfer charging from 25 kilowatts to 50 kilowatts. With the technology involved, it is claimed that a bus could run all day over its route, something a conventional electric equivalent could do on a single overnight charge.
"Current battery limitations prevent an all-electric transit bus from operating all day from an overnight charge. Wave solves that problem by charging the bus wirelessly during its daily operations when the bus stops to load and off-load passengers," said Wesley Smith, CEO of the company. "This technology makes electric buses competitive with their diesel hybrid and CNG counterparts."
It may be some time, however, before we see widespread commercial uptake of buses like Aggie - certainly in major cities where the installation of the power plates would be tricky and time consuming. It's exciting stuff though and the further implications could be huge. Imagine parking your car over an inductive charging plate in a multi-story car park?