A breakthrough which provides cord-free charging technology for electric vehicles may hold the key to faster adoption of the technology. Wireless technology Qualcomm has developed Qualcomm Halo, it’s Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology as a way to bring electric vehicles (EV) to the mass market. WEVC removes the need for drivers to plug in to charge, so there is no need for charging cables or a charging post. In 2011 Qualcomm acquired technology used by HaloIPT, a spin out company of The University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Building on 20 years of development and innovation in wireless power at The University of Auckland and its commercialization company Auckland UniServices, the HaloIPT team in a relatively short period of the time established itself as a leading developer in wireless electric road vehicle charging – with HaloIPT winning industry acclamation and awards,” said Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president of European Innovation Development for Qualcomm in a 2011 press statement.
The company says it believes that trying to change user behavior will always be difficult. This leads to slower adoption rates. EV charging must be simple and effortless. Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology allows power transfer across large air gaps. Unlike other inductive charging solutions that may need accurate alignment, drivers need only to park as normal in the parking/ charging bay. According to the company, Qualcomm Halo WEVC power transfer efficiency is comparable to plug in cabled charging systems, even with misalignment of the charging pads. A variety of power transfer solutions has been developed to suit a broad range of vehicle types, from small urban commuters to high performance racing machines. Tests have been run on 3.3kW systems on vehicles including two Citroen C1 passenger cars that have been proven in the UK CABLED EV trial; a 7kW system on the Rolls Royce Phantom 102EX Experimental Electric Vehicle; plus a 20kW system on the Drayson B12/69 EV Racing Car taking EVs into the world of high performance motor sport at speeds of over 200mph (320kmph). Qualcomm Europe is sponsoring Drayson Racing Technologies over the next 18 months to promote and develop Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology during the launch phase of the new FIA Formula E Championship. Qualcomm Europe has additionally appointed Drayson Racing as an Official WEVC Performance Motorsport Development Partner for Qualcomm’s WEVC technology in high performance motorsport using both static and game-changing dynamic charge-on-the-move systems. Drayson will promote the adoption of WEVC in motorsport by demonstrating the effectiveness of the technology.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Anthony Thomson, VP Business Development & Marketing at Qualcomm Europe what the advantages of WEVC are over cabled recharging of electric vehicles. Thomson: There are clear benefits to WEVC: simplicity; minimum driver intervention; low visual impact; ease of deployment in public spaces; and flexibility – all contributing to the differentiation of WEVC vehicles from their cabled counterparts. The key advantage of Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology is its ease of use for customers. Drivers simply park in the charging bay as they do normally and charging can commence. Charging little and often can also remove range anxiety provided it is simple and convenient. In addition, its efficiency is comparable to plug-in solutions.
AI: A number of automotive manufacturers are now investing in EV programs and evaluating wireless EV charging – can you tell us about the OEMs you are working with on these programs?
Thomson: Qualcomm Halo WEVC is an OEM proposition, rather than an after-market solution and the on-vehicle pad is designed to be incorporated into the design of any new electric vehicle. One of the first OEMs to recognize our technology was Renault, who have been evaluating our technology in order to understand it in the context of their EV programs. Our business model is to license the technology widely into the automotive industry to create mass market demand for wireless EV charging.
AI: What are the compliance challenges in deploying wireless charging?
Thomson: One of the main compliance challenges is concerned with the adherence to automotive design and engineering principles needed for WEVC technology to electromagnetically coexist with myriad vehicle technologies, such as keyless entry and other sensitive on-board electronics. We have a long-established expertise in regulatory compliance engineering, interpreting regulations, developing methodologies, validation, simulation and testing, so we’re confident we can help OEMs overcome these challenges.
AI: How does Qualcomm hope to overcome the challenges with WEVC such as the complex environment that a publicly deployed WEVC system must operate?
Thomson: Understanding the complex environment within which a publicly deployed WEVC system must operate, along with the compliance requirements of vehicle OEMs, the radio frequency (RF), regulatory framework and broader communications environment, requires extensive specific sector knowledge and experience. Qualcomm has extensive experience in regulatory compliance engineering and over the past 27 years has successfully brought new technologies to market. As a result the Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology is a robust system, backed up by a substantial patent portfolio spanning multiple areas of the technology ecosystem.
AI: Similarly, the OEM compliance challenges are huge – including EMC and adherence to global health and safety regulations whilst maintaining a flexible design approach – how is your company helping to address these issues?
Thomson: Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) directives and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation protection (ICNIRP) provide clear safety regulations on emission limits. Meeting these standards within the alignment tolerances, and vertical gap requirements at all power levels is a fundamental requirement for delivering WEVC into volume series production. Qualcomm Halo WEVC technology is built on a “total system design philosophy” that delivers flexibility and packaging options that meet the diverse needs of OEMs. Our system solution approach can potentially meet the packaging requirements – size and weight etc – for multiple vehicle platforms.
AI: What are the benefits of bringing standardization to the WEVC industry?
Thomson: As well as global and regional health and safety regulations related to wireless charging, we strongly believe that global standardization is needed to secure the long-term commercial viability of WEVC. Meeting standards and instilling best practice at the initial vehicle design phase is essential to providing a wireless charging solution that can be manufactured in mass-market scale economies, to deliver competitively priced WEVC products. For that reason, we are working with partners and in multiple industries to ensure interoperability between wireless charging products from different manufacturers. A single global standard for WEVC will facilitate compliance to regulations, interoperability between equipment from different manufacturers and help create the mass-market appeal needed to drive down costs and thereby generate consumer uptake.
AI: What is the potential for WEVC to drive EVs towards the tipping point of mass adoption?
Thomson: At the core of clean urban mobility is a need to recharge EV batteries simply and conveniently. Simplicity and minimum driver intervention are key features that win out time-and-time again in novel technology adoption and, coupled with high power and high energy transfer efficiency, our wireless charging offers an elegant and effortless solution. It’s crucial we support EV sales towards their inevitable tipping point, allowing automotive OEMs to quickly realize the goal of clean transport, reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions in our cities and transition to a healthy zero or low emission urban transportation solution.