Tech Squibs: Utah St. Bus Goes to the Mat for Juice

Researchers at Utah State University developed an electric bus that charges itself while parked over a power grid without needing to plug into anything.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

SQUIB: a : a short humorous or satiric writing or speech; b : a short news item. (Merriam-Webster)

This Tech Squib proves that great innovations can come from very quiet origins – including the wilds of Utah.

A team of researchers and engineers from Utah State University built a revolutionary prototype bus that charges itself while parked over a wireless power transfer system.

To give you an idea of what we're talking about, imagine a much larger and more powerful example of those charging mats you can buy in any electronics store. Once that mat is in your home with electricity running to it, you simply have to sit your smartphone down on the mat to charge the device through a sort of indirection induction.

Once parked on its charging grid (with six inches of misalignment and 10 inches of overhead space allowed), the van charges at a power level up to 25 kilowatts – with more than 90% energy efficiency from the grid to the battery.

It's the first vehicle of its kind to be successfully designed, built and tested in North America. It could also be a magical first step toward electric vehicles you simply park and walk away from while they charge without you having to mess with any plugs or cables.