A company based in New York City—HEVO Power—has designed wireless EV chargers that blend into their urban environment in a unique way: they resemble manholes.

The basic idea is to offer greater convenience for fleet drivers, who will no longer have to climb in and out of their vehicles in order to charge their car’s batteries—an important advantage in a busy city setting.

The technology also offers a significant benefit in terms of space: wireless charging stations take up only a few square feet, and can be embedded or bolted on the shoulders of already-constructed roads.

Through these and other advantages, wireless charging technology can help to increase the availability—and convenience—of electric charging stations in the city. This is an extremely important issue for fleet drivers.

“When you talk with any fleet operator with electric trucks, their greatest barrier is their inability to be able to charge en route at the delivery site,” said Jeremy McCool, the founder and CEO of HEVO Power.

HEVO’s charging stations should help to alleviate those concerns by making electric charging widely-available, as well as convenient, for drivers in city fleets.

Wireless EV Charging

HEVO Power has developed electric vehicle chargers that resemble manholes ideal for an urban environment. Pictured above is a rendering by WXY Architecture + Urban Design. Credit: WXY Architecture + Urban Design.

*HEVO’s Charging Stations *

HEVO’s stations consist of three basic parts: a Level 2 charging station that can be embedded in the pavement or bolted to the street, a receiver coil that is connected to the EVs’ battery, and a smartphone app that helps drivers locate charging stations and monitor their battery as it is charging.

The charging stations are capable of transmitting 220-volts and up to 10 kW of energy from the pad to the electric vehicle being charged.

Once the technology is adapted for commercial use, prices will be comparable to current plug-in stations, with charges of anywhere from $2 to $5 per hour of charge. Charging times would be around 1 to 2 hours for compact cars, but significantly longer for larger trucks and vehicles.

HEVO’s stations are charged through resonance charging, rather than inductive charging. This means that the device being charged—in this case, the electric vehicle—can be several feet away from the power source that charges it. Inductive charging, on the other hand, requires direct contact with the charging surface.

Charging Stations Debuting In Spring 2014

The public safety division of New York University (NYU) will be the first organization to utilize the resonance charging technology from HEVO. They will utilize the technology in two of their patrol cars beginning next spring, and will take advantage of charging stations installed near Washington Square.

In addition, HEVO Power is currently negotiating with E-Ride, PepsiCo, Walgreens, and City Harvest to discuss the possibility of implementing their technology on a large scale.

The idea to install wireless charging stations on the streets came to McCool as he was walking in Manhattan.

“I was walking down the street, pondering how wireless charging could be deployed,” McCool said in an interview with WIRED. “I was standing at 116th and Broadway, and I was looking down and saw a manhole cover. And thought, that’s the ticket. There are no cords, no hazards. Everything can be underneath the manhole cover.”

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