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Google's Autonomous Vehicles May Charge Wirelessly

According to Google FCC filings, the company is partnering with two firms to experiment with wireless charging of driverless cars.

by Colin Wood / February 8, 2016

Google is considering powering its self-driving cars wirelessly, according to documents the company filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

According to the filings, Google received FCC permission to allow New York startup Hevo Power install an experimental charger at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters last February. Also, Google X, the branch of the company developing self-driving vehicle tech, is working with Philadelphia-based Momentum Dynamics, IEEE Spectrum reported.

Both companies make a remote power transfer system, based on a principle called resonant magnetic induction, that involves a car equipped with an undercarriage receiver driving over a power transmitter embedded in pavement.

Some say wireless charging is essential to the future of self-driving vehicles, which are intended one day to serve as a reliable mode of transportation for all, even those not capable of plugging in an electric car once they've reached their destination.

“We’ve heard countless stories from people who need a fully self-driving car today,” wrote Chris Urmson, Google’s self-driving vehicle program director, in December. “We’ve heard from people with health conditions ranging from vision problems to multiple sclerosis to autism to epilepsy who are frustrated with their dependence on others for even simple errands.”

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