Video: Sweden Lets the Road Charge the Vehicle

April 13, 2018
Roads fitted with conductive technology are paired with electric vehicles

Remember those electric slot car tracks you spent hours playing with? Researchers in Sweden are now testing an adult-sized version that takes an old idea and makes it better.

Sweden's Transport Administration was on hand when a new contact-electric transportation system debuted this week. Called the eRoadArlanda project, the concept will look familiar to anyone who ever gave over half of their basement to slot car racing.

The eRoadArlanda concept involves embedding electric rails into the road which will power electric cars when the vehicle's contact arm touches the rail.

How is the eRoadArlanda system different than old-school electrified cable cars and 1950's buses? While the eRoadArlanda electric vehicle is in contact with the road's embedded powered rails, it is also charging its onboard batteries. Like electric cars in use now, that power is stored and automatically kicks on when the vehicle turns off from the electrified road, making a smooth, powered transition to non-powered side streets. They call it conductive technology.  The only time the tracks are electrified is when the electric vehicle's contact arm touches them,  eliminating the danger of a live track such as those on subways. Sensors on the car tell the car when to drop the contact arm down to draw power from the road and when to recline to let the car's battery take over.  

The eRoadArlanda vision is to only electrify existing public roads and making use of the growing network of power stations that support current electric cars.

“One of the most important issues of our time is the question of how to make fossil-free road transportation a reality. We now have a solution that will make this possible, which is amazing. Sweden is at the cutting edge of this technology, which we now hope to introduce in other areas of the country and the world,” says Hans Säll, Chairman of the eRoadArlanda consortium and Business Development Director at NCC.

The test track is located on a ten-kilometer section of Road 893 between Arlanda Cargo Terminal and the Rosersberg logistics area, of which two kilometers will be electrified for the demonstration project. The vehicle that are primarily planned to use the electrified road is an 18-ton truck that will be carrying goods for PostNord.

Sweden has committed to be carbon neutral by 2050 and is looking at eRoadArlanda's unique fossil-free system as a sustainable and cost-effective transportation solution. If the test is successful, the Swedish Transport Administration is planning more installations on the country's highways.

For more information click on the eRoadArlanda website here.