Global car giants testing Auckland University technology
The University of Auckland has developed what is understood to be the world’s first wireless technology that allows parked or moving electric cars to charge automatically.
The breakthrough technology, which is owned by UK-based HaloIPT, was developed by the university’s Power Electronics Group.
HaloIPT was founded by Auckland UniServices, which manages the University’s intellectual property and is responsible for all research-based consultancy partnerships, and Australian structural engineering company Ove Arup & Partners.
HaloIPTsays it is the first in the world to bring to market IPT (Inductive Power Transfer) technology which allows cars fitted with a receiver pad to charge automatically when parked over transmitter pads buried into the ground.
IPT systems can also be configured to power all road-based vehicles from small city cars to heavy-goods vehicles and buses.
The pioneering technology uses magnetic fields to transfer power instead of cables or brushes.
Auckland UniServices chief executive Peter Lee told the National Business Review while this technology is new in relation to vehicles, it’s been widely used by the automotive sector, particularly in cleanrooms, for the past decade.
The technology was invented in the basement of the Engineering Faculty at the University of Auckland more than 20 years ago.
Cleanrooms are used extensively in the manufacturing of integrated circuits. Seventy-five percent of the world’s integrated circuits are made using this technology, said Mr Lee.
“Now we have gone from industrial to consumer and that’s the break through and that did require an extension of the technology because now with a car we have a much more demanding environment, said Mr Lee.
“The car has to be able to pick up power up to about 30cm in distance and has to be able to do it efficiently and safely. And those two key elements are what the car manufacturers said we have to be able to prove before they would put it on an electric car.”
Mr Lee declined to comment on the company’s potential business partnerships with automotive companies but said “several” car markers around the world are already testing it.
“It’s not exclusive and we’ve actually have conversations going with just about every car manufacturer.”
These include European, Japanese and Chinese manufacturers.
In between 18 months and two years cars with this new technology will be available to consumers.
Mr Lee said IPT is set to revolutionise the electric vehicle market.
“We believe this [technology] will change the charging behaviour; people will be able to just top up throughout the day and be able to therefore not have to be so concerned about the range of the batteries in their car.
Because the battery automatically charges every time it stops, its size can be minimal, resulting in decreased vehicle cost.
“Most of the cost of electric car is in the battery so if you can half that or reduce it to a quarter of the size all of a sudden not only has the cost of the car gone down significantly but also the weight of the car has done down.
“Automotive manufacturers say ‘This is the key for us to be able to go from a very expensive introductory kind of technology to something that can become mainstream’,” said Mr Lee.