Remember when plugging in your car charger was such a drag? OK, maybe not.
, a maker of electric and autonomous vehicle technologies, will begin further testing its wireless car-charging units, aiming to make yet one more device — our cars — wire-free.
The Vancouver, Canada-based company will partner with GoMentum Station
in the Bay Area in California, already home to numerous test pilots related to electric and autonomous vehicles.
“Wireless charging is the next logical step in the development of electric, autonomous vehicles,” explains Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), in a statement. “ELIX technology allows for convenient charging without human intervention, which will maximize potential for autonomous and electric fleets throughout our transportation network.”
ELIX uses its patented Magneto Dynamic Coupling (MDC) wireless power system to provide a low-frequency wireless transfer of electricity. The cars simply back into the parking space outfitted with the charging device, which looks a little like a slightly larger parking space tire-stop. The technology can also be used with conventional electric vehicles.
“The technology can certainly be used as a retrofit option on existing cars,” said Brice Jamieson, director of technology and business development at ELIX. “I drive a (Chevrolet) Bolt that has our wireless charger installed and one of our mechanical engineers has put one in his (Nissan) LEAF. We designed it to integrate easily into the existing OnBoard Charger so that any electric vehicle can be equipped with wireless charging.”
The concept behind the wireless charging technology is to create a system that can retrofit easily into cities and parking lots, said Jamieson.
“As far as infrastructure, we're focused on developing products that work with cities and fleets to be a reliable, safe way to charge electric vehicles but also to be a flexible and easy-to-install system, not requiring that an end user dig up the pavement to install coils that can add significant additional cost to a project beyond equipment costs,” he explained.
The low-frequency transfer of electricity also helps to protect the electronic systems unique to self-driving cars, said Jamieson.
For now, one charging station is set to be installed at GoMentum Station this summer, said Linsey Willis, director of external affairs for the Concord, Calif.-based, 5,000-acre autonomous and electric vehicle testing ground.
“If testing proves the technology works as intended, then GoMentum station may install additional chargers on site, or at other pilot program locations,” said Willis.
GoMentum Station is one of 10 designated test sites
by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which oversees the GoMentum Station, has partnered with car companies like Toyota, ride-hailing platforms like Lyft
, car clubs like AAA
, and makers of small autonomous shuttles like EasyMile
, as well as others to develop and refine self-driving technologies.