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Purdue University to test highways that can charge electric vehicles as you drive

Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz
Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation could soon test technology that charges electric vehicles as they drive. (Mariodo/Wikimedia Commons)

Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation will test highways that can charge electric vehicles as they drive.

The state-of-the-art technology places charging units within highway concrete to create a magnetic field.

The technology is similar to a wireless phone charger but it works on electric cars as they drive.

John Haddock is a professor of civil engineering at Purdue. He said so far the technology has been shown to work with small pickups and cars.

“What we’re doing at Purdue is we’re developing a system that has the power to charge semi-tractor trailers as they move 65 miles down the road,” he said.

The partnership between Purdue and INDOT was first announced in 2021. Last month, INDOT celebrated that the project had received international attention in a social media post.

Researchers will place coils within the roadway that produce a magnetic field that recharge car batteries as they pass over top.

According to Haddock, there are a lot of variables that go into how effective the system will be for charging cars.

“It depends on how well you keep the receiver on your vehicle over the charger — we tend to wander back and forth across the lane. We don’t tend to drive in a completely straight line,” he said. “The distance from the charger in the pavement to the receiver on the bottom of the car will affect it, the speed of the car will affect it.”

Haddock said the university will test a quarter-mile strip of US 231 near Lafayette starting this fall to see how effective the technology is ― with the ultimate goal of reducing drivers' worry about where they’ll get their next charge.

“So that we move around freely in electric vehicles and don’t worry about ‘where is the next charging station?’ sort of thing. The charging station is everywhere and you don’t even see them,” Haddock said.