By Amy Barzdukas
Two of my favorite anecdotes in the world of EVs and autonomous vehicles sound
like urban legends. One is about the police department that had an EV — but had to
call off a chase because the officer driving it on the prior shift had forgotten to plug
it in. The other is about the factory automation robot that caught on fire due to a
spark while charging, but dutifully went on its rounds anyway, spreading molten
plastic and flame as it did so and ultimately causing the factory to burn down. As it
turns out, both of these stories are based in truth, and both put a spotlight on a
missing piece in the emerging world of electric and autonomous business: who or
what is going to charge them?
This is where wireless charging comes in. In the case of our law enforcement
vehicle, the last officer to drive it just has to park it when done with the day.
Nobody has to worry about the last driver or whether the plug is fully seated in
order to stay on patrol. (If you don’t know what “fully seated” means, ask anyone
who has an EV today about plugging it in, and they can explain.) In the factory,
sparkless wireless charging from WiTricity and our licensees is safer and more
For instance, once DAIHEN, a licensee of WiTricity’s technology, built Autonomous
Guided Vehicles (AGVs) with wireless charging, they became fully autonomous. This
led to warehouses and factory managers realizing that, not only could their
operations run 24/7, but the technology could be used inside and outside the
warehouse with both small autonomous robots and larger electric vehicles.
In fact, the growth in autonomous valets, robotaxis, and delivery robots is
exploding. As autonomy progresses, the logistics of charging and servicing will
become even more critical.
Our expertise in working with autonomous vehicles through our licensee Delta
Electronics is another great example. “To remain competitive, manufacturers are
continually looking for ways to reduce costs while improving efficiencies,”
commented Alistair Coltart, Line of Business Head, Industrial Charging, Delta
Electronics. “When we looked across all our business lines, we quickly realized that
wireless charging could be transformative for many of our customers. And, working
with WiTricity, we wanted to bring this innovative technology to them.”
Soon enough, your car will park itself, and you’ll enjoy your dinner knowing that
your car is charging itself, too, while you plot your course between the appetizers
and entrees. Here is the video of FAW’s new HongQi E-HS9 vehicle doing just
Robotaxis will be able to charge themselves as needed, so passengers won’t
worry that they’ll get stuck before arriving at their destination. And all those
autonomous deliveries will find their way, stopping to Power Snack™ with wireless
charging between runs. As DAIHEN, Delta, and automakers are proving, this isn’t a
theoretical future – this is now. Autonomous taxis are in pilots in multiple cities;
different vendors are working on autonomous valet parking, and delivery robots are
in use today.
No urban legends here.