Seoul unveils electric vehicle

SEOUL, March 11 (UPI) -- South Korea has unveiled what is considered the world's first commercial wireless electric vehicle.

The online electric vehicle, created by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, can run up to 24.8 miles per hour. Power strips, buried 1 foot under the surface and connected to the national grid provide electromagnetic power to the OLEV, wirelessly, charging an on-board battery and powering the bus's electric motor.


It was introduced Tuesday at the Seoul Grand Park as one of the theme park's seven shuttles operating on a 1.37-mile beltway.

"Of all the world's electric vehicles, this is the most economical system," institute President Suh Nam-pyo said in a Times Online report. Suh said it is "one of the most significant technical gains of the 21st century."

The Seoul government said it hopes to apply the technology to city buses as early as next year after trial operations. Buses account for about 30 percent of Seoul's traffic, with some 56 miles of bus lanes operating throughout the city.

If the OLEV's charging method were to be applied to the public bus system, KAIST says, underground power lines would need to be installed on 20 percent of the total bus route at intervals such as bus stops, parking lots and intersections.


Whether running or stopped, the OLEV constantly receives electric power through the underground cables.

While the institute hopes the system will be running commercially by 2013, Korean car makers such as Hyundai and Kia have not signed on.

The institute says the technology, in addition to reducing pollution, reduces problems often associated with hybrid vehicles such as weighty batteries, lengthy charging times and limited range of power.

Because the OLEV charging method uses a selective provision of power to vehicles, KAIST says, the system alleviates safety concerns about electromagnetic radiation exposure to pedestrians or other conventional vehicles.

Professor Edward Lee of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California-Berkeley, took a test ride during a visit to Seoul last month.

"As far as I know, there has been no research project in the U.S. to develop an electric car that receives electricity from the cable buried beneath the road," he said, according to the KAIST Web site. "It is creative and ambitious for KAIST to try to find a technological breakthrough necessary for the development of electric car."

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