Last year, we watched as Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a new kind of electric vehicle that relies entirely on power from cables buried beneath the road–no outside recharging required. Now the system has been unveiled in its first real-world test location: the Seoul Grand Park amusement park in southern Seoul.
The set-up is fairly simple. An Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) gathers power via magnetic charging from strips below the road’s surface. The power is used either to drive the OLEV or it is stored in a battery for later use. This brand of charging, called “inductive charging” is used in some electric toothbrushes that get power via a magnetic connection while in their cradle.
In the next few years, KAIST researchers hope to get the OLEV system up and running in buses and roads throughout the cities of South Korea. The projected cost of installing the system is about 400 million won or $353,500 per km of road (not including electricity).
Eventually, we imagine that the system could be set up in electric cars as well–potentially eliminating the range anxiety that comes with not knowing how much power is left in an EV. One encouraging statistic: KAIST estimates that if half of all automobiles in Korea are converted to the OLEV system, the country can cut crude oil imports by $3 billion each year.