Electric vehicles continue to make inroads into American psyche and, indeed, across the global landscape. Media continues to be on the EV’s battery and namely its “failings” such as short range and long recharge time. While news agencies and the public wait on manufacturers to develop the “Next Big Thing” (i.e., batteries with a 200, 300, or 400 mile range), other groups are looking at the other end of the equation and figuring out ways to shorten the recharge time of batteries.

Wireless EV charging, or online electric vehicles (OLEV), may be that quick-charging technology. Using electromagnetic induction, OLEVs, coupled with more efficient vehicle batteries, may help EVs leap into mainstream use. How? In layman’s terms, OLEVs recharge their batteries without plugging into an outlet or charging station via a physical cable. Instead, special plates underneath the vehicle and its batteries use magnetism to literally “collect” electricity from power strips or cables buried underground.

kaist olev trains / trams

The World Economic Forum has found it and OLEVs so effective that it recently selected the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) OLEV among the world’s ten most promising technologies for 2013. The KAIST OLEV trams pictured, for examples, recharge their batteries through electric cables buried up to seven inches under the road.

According to KAIST, its OLEVs use batteries only a fifth the size used in electric cars, and have a power transmission rate of around 80 percent. These KAIST OLEVs began ferrying passengers back in 2011 at the Seoul Amusement Park. Other, similar vehicles and technologies located around the world include the Opbrid Bůsbaar recharging system in Germany and the Aggie bus and Foothill Transit Econliner in the U.S.

KAIST also has car and bus OLEVs. Other promising technologies deemed by the WEF include 3-D printing, remoting sensing and organic electronics.

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