Despite big leaps in electric car range and charging times, EVs still haven’t reached the point of being as convenient as gas-powered cars. A recently published patent from Honda seems to offer a possible, if questionable, solution to electric charging and range.
The patent shows and describes a strange system in which a car would be equipped with a deployable arm with an electrical contact on the end. When extended, the arm would ride in a grooved rail along the side of the road. This rail would be connected to the electrical grid, and would allow the car to charge as it drives along. The idea is similar to old electric trolleys and buses that connected to overhead power lines.
While novel, we’re not sure that this would be a better solution than wireless charging systems that have also been proposed. Honda’s idea would likely be easier and cheaper to build and maintain than a wireless system with electromagnetic coils embedded in the pavement. However, there are many potential issues. For one, that arm is just begging to be broken off. At some point, someone will forget it was deployed, or the retracting mechanism will break, and that driver will snap it off on a something like a street light. And while the charging rails would be easier to reach for maintenance, they might need more of it. In heavy snow, the rails may have to be cleared to be usable, and since the contacts will be rubbing against the rails all the time, people will have to inspect them to make sure they still work.
We still have to give Honda some credit though. This is an interesting idea for solving the issues of range and charging. We just think there are other technologies that would work better long term.