Ford is investigating the possibility of enabling electric vehicles (EVs) to charge while they are in motion by utilizing technology embedded in the road. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Ford patent application on July 20, 2023, which was initially filed on January 20, 2022. The patent application, titled “Roadway Charging Coil Alignment and Monitoring,” focuses on implementing wireless inductive charging for vehicles on the move.
Wireless inductive charging involves using coils placed in a transmitter, connected to an electricity source, and a receiver mounted on the EV to transmit electricity wirelessly. This technology has been used in stationary charging systems by some companies, and Ford has a separate patent application for that purpose.
In this new patent application, Ford explores the idea of embedding inductive-charging coils into the road to charge moving vehicles. For this method to work effectively, the receiver on the vehicle must align with a line of coils on the road’s surface. Ford suggests that drivers could maintain alignment by following lane markings or relying on a camera or other sensors to read the lane markings.
However, Ford acknowledges that maintaining perfect alignment between the car and the in-road charging coils can be challenging, leading to reduced charging efficiency. To address this issue, Ford proposes equipping vehicles with ground-penetrating radar to precisely locate the coils in the road. The radar data would then be fed into a control system that would automatically adjust the steering to achieve optimal charging alignment.
While in-motion wireless charging has been attempted before, Ford’s radar system could potentially make this type of charging more reliable. However, implementing such a system would require a significant infrastructure investment, and careful selection of roads to ensure the greatest impact.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about in-road wireless EV charging
Q: What is Ford exploring in its patent technology?
A: Ford is exploring the concept of in-road wireless EV charging using ground-penetrating radar for optimal vehicle alignment.
Q: When was Ford’s patent application published and filed?
A: Ford’s patent application titled “Roadway Charging Coil Alignment and Monitoring” was published by the USPTO on July 20, 2023, and originally filed on January 20, 2022.
Q: How does wireless inductive charging work?
A: Wireless inductive charging involves using coils in a transmitter and a receiver on the vehicle to transmit electricity wirelessly, enabling EVs to charge without physical connections.
Q: What potential challenges does Ford mention with in-road charging?
A: Ford notes that misalignment of the car and in-road charging coils can reduce charging efficiency. To address this, they propose using ground-penetrating radar for precise coil location.
Q: Has in-motion wireless charging been tried before?
A: Yes, in 2017, Renault and Qualcomm demonstrated charging a car at 60 mph on a test track, and in 2020, electric trucks were successfully charged while driving in Sweden.
Q: What could make Ford’s radar system valuable for in-motion charging?
A: Ford’s radar system could improve the reliability of in-motion charging, making it more viable for practical applications, especially if implemented on a large scale.
More about in-road wireless EV charging
- Ford Patent Application “Roadway Charging Coil Alignment and Monitoring”
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- Wireless Inductive Charging
- Renault and Qualcomm’s In-Motion Wireless Charging Demo
- Electric Trucks Successfully Charged While Driving in Sweden