Concept showcases are always one of our favorite stops at CES 2012, and Qualcomm had quite an awesome concept to showcase - a wireless electric vehicle charging system.
In November 2011, Qualcomm acquired HaloIPT, a provider of wireless charging technology for electric road vehicles. Joining Qualcomm’s European Innovation Development group, the newly formed Qualcomm Halo group went on to tackle an issue with charging for electric vehicles - the need to physically plug the vehicle to a power outlet.
The Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) system envisioned by Qualcomm uses magnetic resonance to couple power from a base charging unit to the vehicle charging unit. According to a Qualcomm spokesperson, the base unit is typically buried between the range of 3 to 4cm below ground.
The wireless charging system promises at least 90% charging efficiency when the vehicle is parked above the base unit. More importantly, this isn't based on whether the vehicle is perfectly aligned with the unit. While Qualcomm didn't give us an exact tolerance level of the misalignment, they mentioned that charging commences once the units from the base and vehicle are within proximity. Here's a video explaining the concept behind the WEVC system (without audio).
Qualcomm is currently working with various electric vehicle manufacturers to bring this technology onto their lineup. Retrofitting older vehicles with the WEVC system is possible, and Qualcomm is looking at countries such as US, UK, Germany, Korean and Japan to propagate this system. In particular, Asia is believed to be a target with the greatest potential to adopt this system.
While the demonstration showcased just one base unit for a stationary vehicle, Qualcomm stated that there are plans to move the concept from a stationary charging model to a dynamic model. This will potentially see roads lined up with multiple base charging units, and electric vehicles with smaller batteries that are constantly charged as they move from point-to-point. Of course, the dynamic model will be heavily dependent on building a strong infrastructure to support the concept.
Qualcomm is expecting to see more electric vehicles adopting the WEVC system by 2014.