South Korea Puts New Spark into Public Transport Technology

2010-03-17 09:44 AM EST Last Updated: 2010-03-17 11:55 AM EST

An amusement park near Seoul has become the first public venue for the "Online Electronic Vehicle" technology which provides electric power to vehicles used in public transportation.

[Suh Nam-pyo, President, Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology]:

"This car can absorb electricity without wires. Energy produced from about 20cm under the road can be transferred to the surface and absorbed to the battery. Then the car gets to move."

The event was the first step in commercializing the technology developed by South Korea's top technology university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, last year.

The technology uses the roadway itself as a conduit for electricity, via strips embedded in the road. The strips transfer energy to an onboard battery through magnets connected to the vehicle’s chassis.

Vehicles with sensor-driven magnetic devices on their underside suck up energy as they travel over the strips embedded a few inches under the road.

The strips, which are attached to small electrical stations, are laid in bus lanes and roads running up to intersections so that vehicles can power up where traffic slows down.

[Lee In-keun, Air Quality Management Director, Seoul Metropolitan Government]:

"Existing recharging-type of electronic vehicle has to bear a considerable weight of battery so that it can be recharged while being stopped at station. However, this Online Electronic Vehicle can be recharged while driving, which means the vehicle pertains such advantages as cost-effectiveness and the minimized weight of battery."

Unlike electric lines used for trams, vehicles do not need to be in constant contact with the strips and a person can touch the lines without receiving a shock.

The university has four prototype buses using the technology on its campus and is in talks with Seoul and other cities to have buses running in the next three years using the system.

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