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Formula E Racing Will Showcase Wireless Charging |

Qualcomm took the early lead in the wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging race, and starting in 2014, the company will test the limits of its wireless power transfer technology on the Formula E (electric) racing circuit.

San Diego-based Qualcomm, which is primarily known for developing wireless technology for mobile handsets, will take the technology the company has been developing for 2 years, including intellectual property (IP) acquired from the University of Auckland to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, London, Berlin, and Beijing as part of the all-electric Fia Formula E racing series. For the first year, electric safety vehicles will be charged by Qualcomm Halo’s 20 kW charging technology, and in future years, the race cars themselves will be charged wirelessly.

From Track to Street

During a panel discussion at the recent EVS27 conference in Barcelona, Qualcomm’s Anthony Thomson said that the company will install wireless chargers at the race locations and leave the charging equipment in place after the race concludes for use by other EVs. The 10 driving teams (7 have been announced) participating in Formula E field two drivers per team, and each driver will have two cars – one for distance driving (with reduced power) and one for sprints – and they will manage their vehicle charging for optimal performance.

The Formula E races will be a high profile platform for showcasing the latest in EV technology, as the quiet vehicles open up new possibilities for communicating with the drivers. The racing series does not restrict the technologies used in the electric motors or batteries, and racing teams will experiment with new technologies on the track before they are introduced to commercial vehicles.

Formula E will also highlight how much quieter EVs are than fossil fuel burning cars, as the series will include interaction where selected fans will be able to talk with the drivers during the race. Drayson Racing, which will compete in the Formula E series, announced that it is licensing the Qualcomm Halo Wireless EV Charging technology from Qualcomm, which is focusing on licensing the technology rather than making final products for sale.

The New Standard

Qualcomm is now taking a victory lap after the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) selected the 85 kHz frequency used by the company’s wireless charging system as the basis for an upcoming wireless EV charging standard, to be known as J2954. While other companies in the nascent industry are likely to reengineer their products to operate at that frequency, Qualcomm will not have to make adjustments.

Wireless vehicle charging is still in its early days, though bus companies in South Korea and someautomakers have expressed interest in replacing cabled charging with the convenience of wireless charging. While the industry is small today (just over $1 million annually), according to Navigant Research’s report Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, by 2020, the global market for wireless charging equipment will surpass $420 million annually.



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