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2km stretch of road lets vehicles draw power like a car on a Scalextric track
The world's first electric road, which can charge both commercial and passenger vehicles while they are travelling, has formally opened in Sweden. The 2km stretch of road is located outside Sweden's Arlanda Airport.
Over the next 12 months, PostNord will use the road to keep one of its electric trucks stay charged as it shuttles deliveries between Arlanda Airport and its distribution centre 12km away.
The truck has been fitted with a connector underneath its chassis which attaches to an electrified groove in the road, drawing power like a car on a Scaletrix track.
The charging process is completely automatic with a connector magnetically sensing the road. The connector goes down onto the track automatically when joining the 2km stretch and on leaving the track, it goes up automatically.
The operators are able to send data through electric cables, and are thus able to identify the car, so the rail will know if the user is allowed to draw electricity or not and it will be able to charge accordingly.
Studies in both Germany and Sweden have shown that there's an enormous difference in cost between having cars with big batteries, and cars with small batteries and electric roads. Calculations show that around 20,000 km of road needs to be electrified. This would establish a grid with about 40km between the big roads that are electrified, so you can operate 40km by 40km with a battery, and then travel onto an electrified road to travel longer distances.
It is hoped that this, or a similar technology will be in commercial use within five to ten years. The eRoadArlanda solution is one of two 2km pilot projects funded by the Swedish Road and Transport Agency. In 2016, a strip of the E16 motorway outside Gavle was fitted with overhead cables which have been used to recharge a hybrid truck supplied by Scania.
The Swedish Road and Transport Agency's National Plan for Electric Roads aims to start by electrifying the 1,365km triangle linking Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg which is responsible for 70.0% of heavy goods traffic in the country. The next step is to deliver a longer pilot project of between 20km and 30km, which will be installed in about two to three years.
According to the operators, the energy is delivered in the eRoadArlanda project at 200kW, ten times what would be delivered by a standard stationary charger. The electricity is about 6cm down in the tracks and the electricity is also connected to the earth, so even if the road is flooded with salt water, when measuring the electricity at the surface, it's less than one volt.