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KAIST Introduces “Online Electric Vehicle” With Inductive Charging for Amusement Park

KAIST’s operational OLEV. Click to enlarge.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed and deployed a prototype implementation of its online electric vehicle (OLEV) technology that picks up electricity from power cables buried underground through a non-contact magnetic charging method. The OLEV demonstrator developed by KAIST replaces a trackless combustion-engine train running inside Seoul Grand Park.

KAIST called the non-contact charging of vehicles while running, idling, or parking an important and practical technology necessary for the development of commercialized electric vehicles.

The power pickup equipment installed underneath OLEV collects electricity from a roadway and distributes the power either to operate the vehicle or for battery storage. Whether running or stopped, the OLEV constantly receives electric power through the underground cables. As a result, OLEV the mitigates the burden of equipping electric vehicles with large battery packs—the OLEV’s battery size is one-fifth of the batteries installed in electric vehicles currently on the market.

A road embedded with underground recharging strips is divided into several segments so that, when a car drives on a certain segment, a sensor in the segment is turned on, and the car above the segment picks up electricity. A selective provision of power to vehicles with the pickup equipment relieves safety concerns about electromagnetic radiation exposure to pedestrians or other conventional vehicles. EMF test results for OLEV are well below the 1998 the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guideline, 62.5mG at 20kHz.

If the OLEV charging method is applied to the public bus system in South Korea, the underground power lines would need to be installed on only 20% of the total bus route at places like bus stops, parking lots, and intersections, KAIST said.

In terms of power system transmission efficiency, KAIST’s research team achieved a maximum pick-up capacity of 62 kW/h, 74% with an airgap height of 13cm from the road to the bottom of the vehicle.

Comprising one engine and three passenger cars, the OLEV travels along a total length of 2.2km. There are four sections of power supply infrastructure on the route (Sections 1, 2, and 3: 122.5 meters long each, and Section 4: 5 meters long). The power supply cables were installed under the road surface for a total of 372.5 meters, 16% of the total distance of the 2,200 meter route.

The city government of Seoul and KAIST signed a Memorandum of Understating (MOU) on the development of the online electric vehicle in August 2009.

KAIST has submitted more than 120 applications for patent rights in connection with the development of OLEV, and has set up a roadmap for research and development that will lead to the commercialization of OLEV:

  • Development of core technology for the power supply and collection system (2009)
  • Development of test prototype for OLEV and common core technology of electric bus (2010)
  • Development of practical prototype technology for OLEV (2011)
  • Development of standard prototype technology for OLEV (2012)
  • Introduction of commercial product to market (2013 and beyond)



Sure this will work. But at what cost? Burying cables is not cheap compared to hanging an overhead induction pickup or hard-connect port. The idea to recharge a smaller storage system over a shorter time line is a good one. But the stress on battery duty/charge cycle increases requiring costlier battery chemistry like Altair Nano.


It seems like this could work on freeways where there are no pedestrians. Maybe you wouldn't even have to bury the cable. If it could be made sort of flat, you just pin it to the surface.


This could be a much better solution than overhead cables. The world could find very quick and low cost ways to bury cables under existing highways, roads and streets. A few hundred basic machines could do the job over a few years. Europe has been using buried power cables for a very long time. Communication cables, NG pipelines etc have been buried for more than 100 years. Existing power cables should also be buried.


Maglevs turn on and off sections of track before and after the train arrives and departs to save power. But if your grid was the buried lines, there would be no need to do that.



I wasn't thinking new overhead power lines, just the charging connector. For many communities without resources to bury cables this is a lower cost solution.

But I agree that most service conduits should be buried. If an expansion of Residential Power Units replaces overhead power lines - all the better. This would reduce line losses, grid maintenance and the need for new power plants.

Of course there is a faction opposed to home-generated CHP. This is primarily due to political agendas. Fortunately, the gas and coal companies could do very well selling fossil methane and or biomass syngas to residences.



Most small European towns (many rather poor) have had buried cables for decades. It may not be so much a question of cost but rather a question of priorities.

Our million +++ poles and overhead cables are an awful eye sore that we could afford to fix to increase our quality of life. We fuss a lot about a few hundred wind mills but not about many million times more overhead cables and degraded leaning poles in our back and front yards.

Henry Gibson

We have progressed to a point where Direct current buried cables can be the cheapest, most efficient means of transmission of electricity because transistors can convert it to any frequency or voltage at relatively low costs. For such a vehicle many insulated metalic studs connected to a very large 24 volt battery could supply charging at any point with no danger to the public or their animals. Super high tech studs can even have built in semiconductors with a micro-computer in each to ensure that only the train is charged, but this is not necessary.

People are worried about large elevated powerlines many miles distant but are thrilled at the prospect of ineduction coils built into the wall to charge their laptop computers connected to the world wirelessly. ..HG..


I think they mean buried coils that generate powerful magnetic fields to transfer power into matching coils in the car.
The power lines leading to and from the coils better not radiate (waste) large amounts of power.

I question the efficiency of transfer, safety and cost of all these transmitter coils.

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