Google begins wireless EV charging trial

Google is participating in a new trial of electric vehicle (EV) technology which could help catapult the zero-emissions vehicles into the mainstream - without a wire in sight.

US-based EV charging firm Plugless Power said March 21 that it had installed a new system which allows electric vehicles to charge wirelessly at the search giant's California headquarters, the first public release of the technology.

Plugless Power's system is based on inductive charging - the same technology used by modern electric toothbrushes - which allows batteries to charge when moved within the proximity of a base unit.

Google's trial will allow the company's fleet of specially-converted electric vehicles to charge automatically when they are parked in the right spot, without any plugs or wires to connect.

The trial is an excellent start for Plugless Power, which says that it is working to roll out the trial to other companies and homes to integrate the technology into mass market EVs to the public by 2012.

The added convenience of cord-free charging is making inductive technology an attractive direction for the electric vehicle industry, with Plugless Power's CEO Tom Hough describing a simple, convenient charging process as "needed for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles."

Major automakers such as GM experimented with the technology as early as the 1990s, although it never caught on and the project was cancelled in 2002.

However, in recent months, the auto giant has signalled that it is again beginning to think about the technology, investing in wireless charging start-up Powermat to allow electronic devices to be charged wirelessly in-vehicle.

With Chevrolet's Volt currently requiring a hefty charging cable, it's likely there are some at GM who have a bigger use in mind for the charging technology.

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