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Wirelessly-charged electric buses start public route in South Korea

Alexis Santos
August 6, 2013
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Wireless charging might seem perfectly suited for smartphones and tablets, but the city of Gumi, South Korea is putting the tech to use with something a little larger: buses. A pair of Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) motorcoaches, which recharge by driving over specially-equipped asphalt, are now running a public transportation route in the city, and it's said to be the first network of its kind open for regular use. Rather than stopping periodically to jack in, coils on the coaches' underside pick up power through an electromagnetic field created by road-embedded wires. Currently, the vehicles have a roundtrip journey of 24km (roughly 15 miles) when completing their stops.

Since the system operates so long as 5 to 15 percent of the path is electrified, there's no need to rely on a completely rigged-up highway. What's more, the solution is only triggered by passing OLEVs, which means that normal cars can share the same street. If this all sounds familiar, that's because the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has been hammering away at the technology for several years. Now that it's made it this far, the city has plans to add ten more buses to its fleet by 2015.

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