By Caroline Jones Carrick
When I was a child, my father cruised into our driveway in a gleaming gas-guzzler he bought for a song during a spike in fuel prices. Our British family of five fit in the snazzy, American Cadillac ‘Coupe de Ville’ with what seemed like acres of vinyl and velour interior to spare. I have fond memories of that car, like driving home with a Christmas tree on the roof in a light sprinkle of snow – or sitting on the big, chrome bumper eating ice cream after my brother’s football games, admiring the glitter in the blue metallic paint.
Fast forward and my 6-year-old barely notices what’s in the driveway. He is far more excited about ordering an Uber with the app and watching the car’s progress, or using online journey planners to map out train trips. It’s a hint of things to come. Already, most children in Europe – including those living outside urban areas – are exposed to a mix of travel modes, including those that are app-enabled. We are heading for a future that is less about cars and more about mobility, blurring lines between public, private and shared transport.
A recent forecast predicts that the internal combustion engine will be wiped off the face of the earth in just over a decade, taking the oil industry with it. In roughly that same time period, car sharing in America could reduce the number of vehicles on roads by 80% according to one think tank. Hold on to your Asimov books: a seismic shift in road transport is coming thanks to tech which used to be the realm of science fiction, but is very much here and now.
Two areas of technology are shaping the future of cars: electrification and driverless robotics. At TEV project, we’re working on a new kind of road infrastructure which harnesses both.
TEV is a design for a highway lane that powers electric vehicles as they drive. Called ‘dynamic charging’, electric and hybrid cars can travel indefinitely without the need to stop and charge, and producing zero local emissions. As my father, an expert and entrepreneur in battery technologies says, “If you achieve direct contact, energy density [for battery-electric cars] goes from inadequate to infinite. It’s a magical thing.” When it comes to keeping EVs on the move, dynamic charging will be a game-changer, making them more practical and enabling near-continuous use needed for car sharing.
Read the full article in our latest edition – out today, which is being distributed at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB) in Brussels; and is also available online.