This article first appeared in the Future Transport-News magazine, Issue 1 2023.
From Geneva, Switzerland to Trikala, Greece and Kronach, Germany to Oslo, Norway, autonomous buses and shuttles can be found in cities around the world.
Although these electric buses are driverless, they still require someone to plug them in to charge – and unplug when done.
One innovative city is Zhengzhou, China where you’ll find driverless buses that also charge without human assistance. These buses are a result of a unique collaboration between WiTricity, the pioneer in wireless charging for electric vehicles, and Yutong Bus, one of the world’s major bus and coach suppliers. This collaboration marks the first-ever commercial application of wireless charging for an autonomous electric bus, with WiTricity providing a key feature in one of the most advanced public transportation systems in the world. Yutong buses have been exported to over 30 countries and regions, with a market share of over 30% in mainland China and more than 15% worldwide.
“We are so excited to see this first real demonstration with Yutong Bus of wireless charging powering autonomy at scale,” said Alex Gruzen, CEO of WiTricity. “As autonomy progresses, the logistics of charging and servicing will become even more critical. WiTricity wireless EV charging can enable the next generation of electrified transportation and logistics.”
The commercial deployment of wireless charging in Yutong’s e-buses debuts in Zhengzhou, China, on the Xiaoyu 2.0 autonomous minibus. This level 4 autonomous bus seats ten passengers and has a range of 150km.
Wireless charging makes driving an electric vehicle easier, safer and more convenient than driving a plug-in vehicle. But, beyond this, full autonomy is not possible without wireless charging; it’s the perfect complement to predictable, repeated routes of municipal buses and airport shuttles. For instance, static wireless charging pads can be placed at the bus depot for end-of-shift charging or at locations where buses and shuttles consistently stop for passenger pickup and drop off. While waiting for passengers to leave and new passengers to board, the vehicle can be charging – with no human intervention. This ability to provide charging throughout the day can help reduce the size of EV batteries and peak energy demand.
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