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OLEV: The First Wirelessly-Powered EV Made in South Korea

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The world’s first commercial wireless EV has been introduced on Tuesday in South Korea at a theme park in Seoul. It’s called the “On-Line Electric Vehicle” (OLEV), and it gets its energy from cables underneath the surface of the road. The car doesn’t make any contact with the road, all the energy is transferred by magnetic induction.

Limitations on battery weight and autonomy led the Korean scientists think of another way of transferring the electricity from the grid to the car, although this one is a little less efficient (there are losses in the wireless energy transmission process).

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) illustrated about a year ago the possibility that a vehicle could receive up to 80% power at the distance of 1cm between it and the power line. Although it sounds a little futuristic for a vehicle to have such a low guard, there could be ways to digitally control the closeness of the receiving mechanism to the ground.

In July 2009, KAIST researchers did an experiment with a bus, which had a similar system installed, with an efficiency of transmission of up to 60% over a gap of 12cm from a power line embedded in the asphalt using in-house built pick-up technology and power supply.

Calculations show that if only 50% of the Koreans would adopt OLEV, the country would reduce its oil imports by 35 billion barrels per year, saving about $3 billion. Korean manufacturers are also hoping for a commercial release as soon as possible, and possibly exporting the technology worldwide. Of course, all of these require the infrastructure, which is the hardest to get done.

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