Japanese researchers may have created a new way to give electric vehicles an unlimited range using wireless power transmission.
The team from Toyohashi University of Technology believes that the technology they are testing could potentially give electric vehicles power using radio waves rather than wires or induction technology.
The researchers have tested the concept of setting up metal power 'transmitter' plates under the road and corresponding 'receivers' inside the wheels of a vehicle, allowing the transmitter to send power wirelessly to the receiver.
It's an evolution of existing technology called induction, which is currently being tested by several firms including General Motors and Google as a way to wirelessly charge electric vehicles when they are parked over charging equipment.
Unlike induction, however, RF charging is suited to large-scale installation because the radio waves are easily transmitted and less expensive - conjuring the image of RF-equipped highways capable of charging vehicles as they move along them.
In the absence of improved battery technology, the system could dramatically extend the range of electric vehicles, as in most cases only a short range would be required until the driver reaches an RF equipped highway.
For now, the technology is only a prototype, and plenty of obstacles remain, including the high voltage required to power the transmitter and the interference such a large electrical transmission would produce.
But with more and more automakers debuting electric vehicles and little progress being made on range, the Toyohashi team may soon find that their technology is in high demand.