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Fully Automatic Inductive Charging Systems, Requiring no Driver Int ervention, for Electric Vehicles

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Inner-city energy supply infrastructure for electric vehicles

The current sharp rise of public interest in environmental issues, triggered by the by now obvious consequences of human industrialised activities, has boosted research in alternative environmentally friendly technologies. Especially concerns about air quality in cities have lead automobile industries to look seriously into the feasibility of electric vehicle transportation. The current European funded project has developed the electricity stations needed for recharging the vehicles.

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Many European cities, among them Athens, Greece being the most notorious example, are ever increasingly faced with air quality problems due to the large number of vehicles. Car emissions are the primary source of smog formation and even though the use of catalysts has considerably improved the situation, a viable and long-term solution to the problem is still pending. Electric vehicles are expected to improve traffic conditions but more importantly their zero emissions will offer a substantially healthier living environment. Among the issues that prevent market introduction of such vehicles is the energy supply infrastructure for these vehicles, the analog of the petrol station infrastructure for conventional vehicles. The Electric Vehicle Inductive Automatic Charging system (EVIAC) is a research project that developed four different topologies of inductive charging systems with automatic connection. Innovation lies in the fact that driver intervention is no longer necessary in contrast to other charging structures. The four different systems serve different needs. The first three are high frequency couplers with either a passive mechanical alignment system or an active docking system or a system with high position tolerance. The fourth being an intermediate frequency system at 400 Hz. Systems like these include loosely coupled inductors and problems of electromagnetic interference immediately arise. The constraints imposed have been extensively analysed. The proposed networks of energy supply stations are mainly envisaged for users in need of frequent charges like electric taxis or electric busses for example. User needs have been analysed and predicted in great detail. Safety, security and reliability issues were also addressed. A user-friendly charging system will easily be integrated in the city and diminishes citizens' resistance to accept it. Moreover the investments required and maintenance costs are actually comparable to those of a usual parking meter infrastructure. Electric taxis, electric busses, utility vehicles or industrial trucks can use the technology developed. Additionally applications like the EVIAC project will mature further electric vehicle technology and bring their much needed market introduction closer.

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