We’ve covered sustainable urban developments in Seoul before. On Tuesday researchers launched an environmentally friendly public transport system using a “recharging
road”– with a vehicle sucking power magnetically from buried electric
The Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV), towing three buses, went into
service at an amusement park in southern Seoul. If the prototype proves
successful, there are plans to try it out on a bus route in the capital.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST),
which developed the system, says OLEV needs a battery only one-fifth
the size of conventional electric vehicles and eliminates the need for
It also avoids the need for overhead wires used to power conventional trams or trolley buses.
Guests including Seoul Mayor Oh Se-Hoon and KAIST President Suh
Nam-Pyo were given a 1.4-mile ride Tuesday around the zoo at Seoul
Recharging strips have been installed in four segments totalling about a quarter of a mile along the route.
Pick-up equipment underneath OLEV collects power through non-contact
magnetic charging from strips buried under the road surface. It then
distributes the power either to drive the vehicle or for battery
If the system is used on Seoul bus routes, underground power lines
would have to be installed on only 20% of the route at places
like bus stops, parking places, and intersections, KAIST said in a
The technology was first developed in a project involving the
University of California-Berkeley, but KAIST said that produced no
The state-funded institute says it has applied for more than 120
patents in connection with OLEV, which it describes as safe, clean, and
“Of all the world’s electric vehicles, this is the most economical
system,” Suh told reporters, adding the operating cost is only about
one-third of ordinary electric vehicles. “The potential for application
[of this technology to public transport systems] is limitless. I dare
say this is one of the most significant technical gains in the 21st
Suh said KAIST plans to use OLEVs to shuttle delegates at the G20 summit that Seoul will host in November.
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