With the world looking for various opportunities to dive into renewable and clean energy, it goes without saying that electric vehicles, cars especially, are starting to catch on with the masses. Tesla has done quite well for itself in recent times, and it does not look as though they are going to stop anytime soon with booming markets opening up everywhere, especially in China. However, the main challenge facing electric vehicles right now is more of an infrastructure issue, with far less charging points compared to the number of gas stations around. Perhaps this idea of an electric highway over in Sweden might do the trick.
Over on a short stretch of road in Sweden, work has been done to string cables approximately 18 feet above the asphalt. The reason behind this? In order to send electricity to power hungry trucks. As long as the trucks in question are connected to the grid via the strung cables, they will rely on the provided electricity and run off the grid, as opposed to using their engines. Needless to say, these are not fully electric trucks but rather, hybrid-electric models, running on natural gas as well as battery power when it is on normal roads, and falling back on electricity as and when the opportunity arises.
The antenna that "collects" power is known as a pantograph, where it will be extended and connected in order to ensure that the truck will run in the same manner as that of a city tram. Even when it is powered by electricity while being connected to the overhead wire, the vehicle itself has the ability to hit a top speed of 55 mph, which ain't too shabby, really.
Such technology is not new, as it has been in development for years, being part of a collaborative project between Swedish vehicle manufacturer Scania and German tech outfit Siemens. So far, extensive prototype testing have happened at Siemens' research and development facility outside Berlin, and the culmination of that testing is the result of the system being implemented on a public highway in Sweden a few days back. The cables happen to cover a mere two kilometers of the E16 highway over at Gävle, although there will be attempts to extend it to approximately 110 kilometers, all the way to the industrial town known as Borlänge.
The thing is, when vehicles are running on electricity only, they are whisper quiet since the gas-powered engine is not in action. The only sounds that will be emitted from the truck would be its tyre contact with the road and perhaps any other kinds of clanging metal if it is rather beat up in nature, but that might prove to be a hazard to ordinary road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists, who might not be aware that a truck is bearing on them or about to pass them. Perhaps there is a possibility of making sure that such vehicles will emit some sort of sound from time to time, or perhaps a fake engine sound, so that those in the vicinity will know that it is rolling along.