In a move that will probably delight anyone who raced slot cars as a kid (or an adult), the Swedish Transport Administration has just opened a 2-km (1.2-mi) stretch of electrified road that works the same way. The project, dubbed eRoadArlanda, involves embedding electric rails into the road surface to power electric vehicles through a contact arm hanging down from under the car.
If electric vehicles are ever going to become mainstream, the infrastructure around them needs to be as convenient for drivers as possible. Charging stations are getting more common and more advanced, and we’ve seen other systems proposed that would top up cars on the go, like wireless charging lanes or Siemens’ eHighways that use overhead cables.
In the eRoadArlanda project, electricity from two parallel tracks in the road is fed into a vehicle through an arm attached to the underside of the car. That might sound restrictive, but the arm is retractable, and hooked up to sensors that tell it to only extend down when it’s above the rails. If the car needs to overtake or turn off the road, the arm folds back up out of the way and the vehicle draws power from its battery.