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[timesoline] Korea unveils the ‘future of transport’ — the Online Electric Vehicle
2010-05-18  3,220

Korea unveils the ‘future of transport’ — the Online Electric Vehicle


Its inventors believe that this is the future of urban transport — but it was hard not to be underwhelmed as the test vehicle trundled around a circuit on the edge of the South Korean capital.

The first public demonstration of the Online Electric Vehicle, or Olev, was, however, as much about the road on which it travelled as the prototype bus itself. Electric power strips have been buried 30cm (12in) under the surface and connected to the national grid.

They provide electromagnetic power to the vehicle, wirelessly, charging an onboard battery and powering the bus’s electric motor. The power strips need to be embedded in only 20 per cent of the length of a road to keep the vehicle running.

The system’s creators, at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, say that the technology not only eliminates pollution, but also alleviates the problems usually associated with hybrid vehicles such as heavy batteries, lengthy charging and limited range.

The institute foresees buses as the first public beneficiaries of the technology, with the creation of dedicated electric bus lanes.

If the technology is later applied to cars the power from two nuclear plants, or their equivalent,would be enough to run every vehicle in South Korea indefinitely, the institute says.

The Korean system has developed technology that was pioneered in California in the 1990s, and overcome several problems associated with it then, including shielding users from the potentially harmful effects of electro-magnetic radiation.

The institute hopes to see the system running commercially by 2013. However, Korean carmakers such as Hyundai and Kia have not joined the project. “Companies in well-established fields are very afraid of new technology,” Dr Suh said.