Sweden has developed an eroad that will charge electric vehicles like a Scalextric slot car set, including two-wheelers.
The project, called eRoad Arlanda, so far consists of a 2km stretch of electrified road. It includes embedded electric rails in the surface to power electric vehicles through a contact arm hanging down under the vehicle.
The eroad looks like it could pose a “tracking” or slip danger to motorcycles as do rail or tram tracks.
However, eRoad Arlanda CEO Hans Säll says the track has been tested by the Swedish Motorcycle Society.
He says motorcycles could use the charging slot “in principle”.
“But I suppose that it would have stronger impact on the basic design of the motorcycle than on a car, truck or bus,” he says.
The charging arm under the vehicle is retractable and linked to sensors that deploy it only when it is above the rails.
The vehicle is not tethered to the rails in any way, so it could be used by motorcycles that tend to move around within a lane.
The charging rail rail is level with the road surface and the two tracks in the rail are 15mm wide, which is narrower than a narrow bicycle racing tyre.
Testing cycles on the rails
The surface of the rail is filled with a bitumen solution that has about the same friction as the asphalt road.
Company spokesman Gunnar Asplund says two-wheelers have been a concern from the beginning.
“We checked that the thinnest racing bicycle wheel is 19mm so we have a width of only 15mm,” he says.
“We have had the rail tested during five years at a test track where the police test their vehicles and among them motorcycles and there has been no complaints. The top of the track is covered with asphalt which makes it very safe.”
eRoadArlanda declares the technology is safe and you would need to jam a metal object into the rails to get an electric shock.
The big hurdle for electric vehicles is range and charging times.
There have been many proposals to overcome these hurdles including a recent suggestion by Kymco for battery-swap vending machines.
While there have been proposals for solar roads to generate electricity and for charging outlets inlaid into parking bays, this is the first road that actually charges vehicles on the fly.
The eRoadArlanda project includes drainage systems to stop the rails filling with water and the contact arm is designed to push water, gravel, rocks and other small obstacles out of the rails.
After a few years of testing on an enclosed track, the project is now moving on to public roads.
The first stretch is 2km from the cargo terminal at Stockholm Arlanda airport and the Rosersberg logistics site, and will be used by a modified PostNord truck.
The Swedish Transport Administration hopes to roll out the rails across the country’s highways.
eRoadArlanda says electrifying 20,000km of Sweden’s roadways would cost about SEK80 billion ($US9.5 billion), but the cost would be recouped within three years.