In the futuristic racing video game F-Zero X, released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1998, players compete against a large field of hovercraft, bumping and boosting their way towards first place. Each vehicle has a plasma charge which becomes depleted as they collide with other vehicles and take advantage of their turbo boost. To recharge the vehicles energy, a player must direct his or her vehicle across a glowing purple section of racetrack.
Of course, plasma-fueled hovercraft are far from a realistic proposition in todays world despite an incredible increase in automotive innovation in recent years. However, the idea that a vehicle could be recharged wirelessly, simply by being in the right place at the right time, is a concept currently being developed by both semiconductor chip makers and automobile manufacturers.
In late May, a partnership was announced between German vehicle manufacturer Daimler AG and San Diego-based telecommunications chipmaker Qualcomm. The agreement involves the testing of wireless charging technologies both for in-car applications, such as wireless phone charging, as well as similar tech for recharging electric vehicles without plugging the car into an electrical outlet. German vehicle and engine manufacturer BMW AG (XETRA:BMW) is developing a wireless inductive charger for its batteries that could be installed in the floor of a garage or carport.
The wireless transfer of electricity to power devices was first suggested by renowned inventor Nikola Tesla more than a century ago but the use of electromagnetic induction to transfer electrical energy without wires has recently come back into vogue. Basic electromagnetic induction works by supplying power to a charging station which includes an induction coil. The electric current causes the induction coil to create an electromagnetic field around itself which is capable of transferring power to a second induction coil within its vicinity.
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