Purpose of new electric road, how it works and how it might facilitate the wider implementation of such technology
Sweden strives to reduce reliance on petrol and diesel
The eRoadArlanda electric test road charges a large, battery powered, lorry as it travels and is a step toward fossil-free transportation in Sweden by 2050, its creators suggested. Its purpose is to make electric vehicles – eco-friendly vehicles, in other words – easier to live with by extending their range and minimising the need to recharge over a lengthy period while parked.
How electric road works
The two kilometre test road incorporates a rail buried in its surface. The rail is easily visible throughout its length, reminiscent of train track and connected to mains electricity. A contact arm on the underside of the lorry lowers once a sensor confirms it is close to the rail. The arm and rail therefore touch.
Electricity then flows from the rail in the road, through the contact arm and into the lorry’s battery. The battery provides power for the electric motor that drives the wheels, of course. The charge, therefore, extends the lorry’s range once it is no longer touching the rail. Once it exits the electric road, in other words.
If the lorry moves away from the rail to (say) overtake the contact arm retracts. Furthermore, only the section of rail in close proximity is live. Irrespective of proximity, there is no power transfer when the lorry stops. How much electricity is transferred is registered, too. Why? To pave the way for pay-as-you-drive fees.
The road is being tested to see how it copes with traffic and weather. Heavy rain, for example. In such circumstances, the rail fills with water. However, the contact arm removes such water and works alongside drainage channels. It has further been claimed that snow can be swept away via a snow plough that has a “special device”.
But what about hazards in the road such as rocks, litter, and debris from accidents that might damage the lorry’s arm? The solution is the radar system that scans for obstacles. If, therefore, there is a large hazard ahead the arm retracts. It can strike smaller obstacles with minimal risk. Furthermore the rail:
- Can power smaller vehicles such as cars
- Can be installed at the rate of one-kilometre per-hour
- Cannot electrocute people/animals that walk over it
Electric road to be utilised nationally
eRoadArlanda confirmed its test road could pave the way for the technology to be utilised throughout Sweden. “The goal of the project is to generate knowledge, experience, and decision data that is conducive to the creation of a platform for the electrification of larger transport routes in Sweden”, it revealed.