How many buzzwords can you fit into one story or title? Wireless charging for autonomous electric buses is about as good as it gets. (Perhaps we could squeeze “AI” in there somewhere.) Well, it certainly caught my attention. The news comes from WiTricity, which calls itself “the leader in wireless EV charging.” Unsurprisingly, the setting for this news is China. WiTricity partnered with YuTong Bus, the largest bus producer in China (and presumably the world), to charge up YuTong’s autonomous electric buses.
Is this just another science project? Not so much — the buses are being used in commercial operations in Zhengzhou, China. In particular, these are level 4 autonomous minibuses, going by the name Xiaoyu 2.0. They seat up to 10 people and have a full-charge driving range of about 150 km (93 miles).
The wireless EV charging makes the trips more efficient and eliminates any need for bus drivers to get out and handle heavy cables. And that’s especially important for autonomous buses with no drivers! After all, if the buses are driverless, the charging needs to be as well.
Why does it seem like China gets everything first these days? Well, China’s had long-term vision on the topics of electric transport and autonomous transport for years now, and commitment to that vision. It is encouraging, enabling, and accelerating transportation of the future.
“We are so excited to see this first real demonstration with YuTong Bus of wireless charging powering autonomy at scale,” said Alex Gruzen, CEO of WiTricity. “As autonomy progresses, the logistics of charging and servicing will become even more critical. WiTricity wireless EV charging can enable the next generation of electrified transportation and logistics.”
This is possibly WiTricity’s most notable wireless EV charging application to date, but WiTricity’s wireless systems are also implemented in a couple of passenger electric cars, the FAW HongQi and the Genesis GV60. What do you predict the next application will be?