What is claimed to be a ground-breaking trial of wireless electric vans launches in Edinburgh today.
In a £1.6 million project four modified Vauxhall vans will take to the streets of the city. They are fitted with a slim charging pad on the underside which works by being parked above electric pads to charge. Charging takes less than an hour with no need to plug in.
The project is led by Flexible Power Systems in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council and Heriot-Watt University.
“Wireless changing could offer fleets efficiencies in terms of the number of chargers needed, time required for charging and space in depots, all barriers to electrification,” said FPS managing director Michael Ayres. “In future, driverless vans could even be used, as no one is needed to plug in charging cables.”
The trial is being funded by the UK Government’s Office of Low-Emission Vehicles through its innovation agency Innovate UK.
Heriot-Watt University has been working with industry representatives from LogisticsUK and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to ensure its research in this project has real world application and relevance.
Professor Phil Greening is deputy director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, a joint initiative between Heriot-Watt University and Cambridge University. He says wireless charging is an essential requirement if commercial vehicles are to transport goods autonomously in the future. “There are enormous challenges for us to overcome if we are to see autonomous commercial vehicles on our roads,” he said. “Our role for around the past three years, has been to explore future scenarios assisted by advanced computer modelling in order to determine the benefits of wireless charging and find solutions to these challenges.”
“While shared infrastructure and collaboration have great potential to reduce the costs of decarbonising last-mile logistics, there are complex scheduling and commercial trade-offs to be considered. Our research will help accelerate the decarbonisation of last mile deliveries and crucially reduce the cost of those operations.”