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OLEV at Korean Amusement Park  (Source: PhysOrg)
Charge strips are placed under blue line the tram follows

Anyone who has ever traveled to a major amusement park knows the dread that is felt when facing a long hike to the gates from the parking lot. Amusement park goers can also appreciate the trams that typically run along the parking lot roadways which take visitors to and from the gates.

Most of these amusement park trams are powered by standard combustion engines or perhaps natural gas. A major amusement park in South Korea has debuted its new tram system that is electric and uses a "recharging road" to stay juiced. The tram is designed to look like a train engine and pulls three carriages to take passengers to and from the park gates. The tram system is called the Online Electric Vehicle or OLEV.

A blue line that runs up the road is positioned along the route the tram rides and has power strips under the surface of the road that are able to deliver power to the trams electrical system as it drives over the blue line. According to the researchers behind the prototype OLEV, if the amusement park trial proves to be successful, there are plans to try the recharging road system on a bus route in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

The total length of the prototype route at the park is 400 meters. Under the OLEV tram is a system that allows the pickup of electricity from the strip under the road surface and then distributes the power picked up to either the vehicle for propulsion or the battery for storage.
PhysOrg reports that if the system is trialed in Seoul, the power strip recharge stations will only be placed on 20% of the bus route at places where the bus sits for extended periods like bus stops, parking lots, and intersections.

The OLEV system was designed by the state-funded Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the research team has applied for over 120 patents relating to the system. 

KAIST president Suh Nam-Pyo said, "Of all the world's electric vehicles, this is the most economical system." Suh claims that the system developed at KAIST costs about a third as much as other electric vehicles to operate. Suh also said, "The potential for application (of this technology to public transport systems) is limitless. I dare say this is one of the most significant technical gains in the 21st century."

Among the breakthroughs that were made to make the system possible was a way to transmit power to the pickup device on the vehicle chassis using magnetic methods. The team claims that the system it developed can transmit power from the underground strips to the vehicle across gaps of up to 25cm. At the amusement park, the prototype system uses a gap of 11 centimeters to account for bumps in the road.

AFP reports that technology for the system was first developed in association with the University of California Berkeley, but the developed tech ultimately failed to produce tangible results. KAIST also plans to use the charge strip system to move attendees and delegates of the G20 summit from one place to another in November.

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RE: A bit of hyperbole?
By porkpie on 3/10/2010 12:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
"Sliced bread is neither the first instance of bread nor things that are sliced."

If you've already invented both bread and slicing, you don't give the first person to slice bread a medal as inventor of the century, either.

The similarities between this and a 19th-century trolley are far more than both simply "carriages with wheels'. They're both electric vehicles, powered by a grid distributing that electricity along the route of the vehicle.

This has a battery, to allow it to not be required to be powered continuously...but so did some of the early trolleys (though admittedly their non-powered range was much smaller). This also is powered from below..more like an early electric subway system, than the outdoor trolleys, powered from above. Again, nothing earthshaking here.

What IS new about this invention? At a glance, I imagine they have some pretty nifty means to safely boost voltage so you don't get eaten alive on line losses, plus some advances in safely and efficiently distributing it from the buried pad to the cars themselves.

A useful step forward? Yes. Invention of the century? Not quite.

RE: A bit of hyperbole?
By artemicion on 3/10/2010 1:23:53 PM , Rating: 3
well apparently "sliced bread" was significant enough to coin the phrase, "the best thing since sliced bread" so i assume that at some point in time people that it was significant and awesome. i also assume that people had bread and sliced things before said point in time.

RE: A bit of hyperbole?
By Fritzr on 3/12/2010 5:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
The innovation was a slicer that did the entire loaf in one pass. Until that invention, bread was sliced one slice at a time. Usually at home, on the kitchen counter, with a knife that did it badly...

You can get a taste of the good old days. Just buy a bread knife and unsliced loaves. Enjoy :D

The innovation here is isolated inductive charging pads, that according to this article offer a higher efficiency than other trams offering hidden power supplies or batteries that hold enough power for hours of operation.

The most efficient full electrics still remains the ones that are always plugged in (overhead conductor, third rail etc.) This does away with overhead power or dangerous exposed powerlines underfoot. As a bonus if a street is closed, tram service is not cancelled.

RE: A bit of hyperbole?
By Adonlude on 3/10/2010 2:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
This is basically a cell phone recharging mat meets trolly. Still pretty cool. Think they will make a trolly recharging mat?

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