Sweden Unveils World’s First Electric Highway That Charges Vehicles While Moving

electric rail highway

The Swedish Transport Administration has opened a 2km stretch of electrified road which works the way racing slot cars did. The project is called eRoadArlanda. Electric rails are embedded into the road surface that will provide electricity to the vehicles through a contact arm, which is hanging underneath the car. If electric vehicles are going to prevail in near future then the infrastructure around them should also be as convenient for drivers as possible. Electric car charging stations are getting advanced and more common. There are also some systems that will charge the cars on the go like wireless charging lanes.

In the eRoadArlanda project, electricity is obtained from the two parallel tracks in the road and is fed to a vehicle through the attached arm. The arm is retractable and linked to sensors which tell you to extend the arm only when the rails are detected. When the car needs to overtake or leave the road, the arm folds up again and the car starts using battery power. It might sound like a dangerous idea to electrify the road, however, the technology is mature to keep the animals and humans safe. At the surface, the track is kept earthed to prevent shocks. The conductors are also buried deep down. To get an electric shock, you need to jam a fork between the rails. Even this is less dangerous than the car which will be coming towards you.

Rain is also not an issue here since there is proper drainage system which is in place along the track. The connecting arm is also designed in such a way that it can push water, small pebbles, and rocks out of the way. The rails also don’t pose a problem for the bikers. The track was tested for few years at a private track and is now moving onto the public roads. The 2km test rail runs between the cargo terminal at Stockholm Arlanda airport and the Rosersberg logistics site. It will be used by a modified PostNord truck. If the plan goes well, the Swedish Transport Administration is planning a larger rollout across the country’s highways.

According to the eRoadArlanda group, electrifying 20,000km of Sweden roadways will cost about US$9.5 billion. However, the cost would be recalculated within three years. The goal is for the rails to complement the wider electric vehicle infrastructure. Only the highways and arterials will be electrified this way. In the smaller streets, the cars can run on their battery and can recharge at home. All in all, the project is reducing the length of the journeys between power sources to a distance that current electric cars can already manage.

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