Qualcomm’s FABRIC project recently had a successful test run, able to charge a moving electric vehicle on a specially set up test track. The company has been working with partners in the EU on wirelessly charging electric vehicles since 2014, but this test marks the first time that a vehicle was successfully charged wirelessly while moving. The test took place in Versailles, France, and demonstrated two cars charging at up to 20KW at normal highway speeds. The cars in question were a pair of Renault Kangaroo units, and were equipped with special wireless charging tech made to work with the test track.
This speed is extremely slow compared to current stationary plug-in standards, which can charge some compatible EVs at up to 150KW, supplying a full charge in an hour or less for most models. The 20KW offered by FABRIC in its current form would be comparable to trickle-charging a smartphone; it would be enough to keep it topped off during use, but would likely actually add to the existing battery charge either very slowly or not at all. The project is designed by Qualcomm, while the testing rigs and other equipment are often manufactured by third parties. In the case of this test, Versailles-based VEDECOM stepped up to build the testing equipment that was laid on the track and put on the vehicles.
FABRIC stands for Feasibility analysis and development of on-road charging solutions for future electric vehicles, and is funded by EU authorities to the tune of €9 million. The project is looking at a number of factors, but what it boils down to is determining if the implementation of wireless charging stations for EVs, both stationary and on the road, could reasonably be done on a large scale. In order to be considered feasible, the project will have to be able to be rolled out in a reasonable amount of time with minimal public nuisance, and in a reasonable budget. Qualcomm and relevant partners have yet to reveal exactly what time frames and budgets would fit into their idea of feasibility for this project, or when the feasibility study will conclude. Should the project come to full fruition, the implications would include self-driving cars that would rarely if ever have to stop for charging, among other things.