Between Nissan’s Leaf racer and a new EV-only racing cup, electric auto racing has been coming along in recent months, although significant challenges remain. For one thing, batteries are still extremely heavy, and for another, they take a long time to recharge. Finally, thermal management issues conspire with both of these battery challenges to force EV races to be quite short. And in search of a solution, one team that’s entered into the EV Cup is looking to the original EV racers for inspiration: slot cars. Rather than getting hot and heavy with big batteries, figures Drayson Racing Technologies, why not charge the car as it’s racing at speeds upwards of 200 MPH? Luckily HaloIPT has come aboard the project, bringing its eponymous wireless Inductive Power Transfer technology to bear in order to create life-sized, wireless, slot-free slot cars.
A press release notes:
[HaloIPT's] partnership with Drayson Racing, which develops and races green motorsport technology, including electric vehicles, aims to pioneer the deployment of dynamic (in-motion) charging of zero emission electric vehicles. The racing cars, fitted with HaloIPT technology, will pick up power wirelessly from transmitters buried under the surface of the road or race track; transferring power directly to the vehicle’s electric battery, ensuring that the vehicle receives constant charging on the move. This innovation is made possible because HaloIPT’s tried and tested technology provides a significant tolerance to misalignment over the transmitter pads, automatically adjusting for changing vertical gap. The system has the ability to intelligently distribute power: ensuring a consistent delivery of power at speed.
The EV Cup isn’t involved yet, so don’t hold your breath for high-speed cordless charging just yet… in the meantime, Drayson and HaloIPT are developing a trackside inductive charging system to replace “internal combustion engine and fuel pit stops.” But it’s clear what Lord Drayson is dreaming of, when he says
Dynamic wireless charging will be a real game-changer, enabling zero emission electric vehicles to race over long periods without the need for heavy batteries. This is a milestone innovation that will have a dramatic effect not just on racing but on the mainstream auto industry. We’re looking forward to putting this technology through its paces as it charges electric race cars at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Research on wireless charging for mainstream cars is being conducted (so to speak) by Korean and German researchers, GM, Toyota, Google, and others. Motorsport seems like an ideal place to validate the technology, but ultimately the real challenge will be figuring out how best to deploy it. The public/private debate over charging on public roads alone could be huge. For now though, the goal of getting a race with on-track inductive charging seems like challenge enough…