Thursday, March 11, 2010

KAIST unveils OLEV, the On-Line Electric Vehicle

The Seoul Grand Park train has been replaced by this OnLine Electric Vehicle (OLEV) developed by KAIST.

The OLEV must follow an underground powerline to charge, thus the "online" label, and the relatively light batteries compared to the ones usually found in electric vehicles. Of course, you need to keep in touch with the powerlines, but this "touch" is "contactless", which means you don't see any tracks nor wires. Power transmission requires specific enablers in the vehicle, and electromagnetic emissions respect all security norms, so if you happen to pass over the lines, your old Hyundai won't start a Transformers break dance, and the old bag lady pushing her caddy (you know, that Hollywood all time fave when the hero's brakes have been sabotaged) won't see her cat turn into bulgogi.

Because batteries can stock power, you don't need to be always online, and that makes the heck of a difference in a business plan. For instance, at Seoul Grand Park, 16% of the 2.2 km circuit are equipped : 3 sections are 122.5 m long, and a fourth only 5 m long - probably a station. Lighter vehicles, lighter infrastructures, and a promising yield : with a 13 cm airgap, transmission reaches 74%.

KAIST estimates that "if the OLEV charging method is applied to the public bus system in South Korea, the underground power lines need to be installed on only 20% of the total bus route at places like bus stops, parking lots, and intersections". Last year, the Institute clinched a MoU with Seoul Metropolitan Government : standard prototypes are expected in 2012 and commercial launch in 2013.

This disruptive innovation came along with 120 patents, and could not only help Seoulites enjoy greener transportation systems, but also become a star product for Korean exports.

Seoul Village 2010

* "
KAIST introduces environmentally friendly public transportation to Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon City"

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