Honda patented a unique arm-equipped EV that can charge on the rails

Honda patented a unique arm-equipped EV that can charge on the rails

    Oct 13, 2016 6:30 PM  PT
Honda patented a unique arm-equipped EV that can charge on the rails
author: Claire   

By Claire Pu

Engineering innovations can sometimes extend far beyond our imagination. With increasing numbers of patents and inventions in electric vehicle industry, humankind might embrace a totally gas-free regimen sooner than expected.

But compared with gasoline propelled cars, electric cars are still not that convenient — one needs to recharge every so often, especially over the course of a long trip. Although the longest running range with one charge is making great strides in around 230 miles, how and where EV batteries can be recharged remains a problem.

Honda recently provides a possible solution with its newly published patent. An EV is installed with an arm that would extend from the vehicle to a charging rail, mounted either at the side of the road like a guard rail, or embedded into the blacktop.

The rail would be connected to the electricity grid and feed power directly to the EV's batteries, basically a driving-while-charging idea. Most of the world's subway systems use similar "third rails" to directly power the trains' electric motors.

Although wireless charging through coils embedded into road surface is well-developed, Honda's bold design to solve the charging problem might pose more difficulties in reality — how to keep the road from snow, rain, or garbage when there's a rail embedded on the road. Another question is how the EV arm when connecting with the rail would not be interrupted by any obstacles or accidents. Added to that, how it can be maintained and not broken easily, and considering the time cost of building and keeping a long rail that EV can attach its arm to, the idea would not be realized so easily.

Early in 2014, Volvo started putting forward a similar idea of a wireless charging system. The idea is that a 500-metre electric road will be built in Sweden to refill the batteries of its Hyber Bus diesel hybrid while it drives on the road. The bus had to stop to plug in and charge at the end of its route, so the company was looking for a way to keep buses in service while being able to run on electric power for greater a length of time.

No matter how Honda or Volvo boldly presents their ideas, the electric vehicle industry is welcoming all sorts of maverick designs as (is often is the case) revolutionary moves comefrom courage and wisdom and risk-taking. We should still give Honda some credit, as it takes years for the best solution to emerge. After all, Rome wasn't built in one day.

In early August 0f 2016, Honda became another car manufacturer to join the License on Transfer (LOT) Network, following General Motors, which joined in July. Other auto brands—including Hyundai, Ford, and even Uber — have joined LOT over the past year. The nonprofit LOT Network was launched in 2014, and began as a Google initiative. It agrees on a mutual non-aggression pact in which members pledge that none of their patents will ever be used by a patent troll to sue another member. (But they can still sell the patents or even sue a competitor within the network directly.)

Sources from:, autoblog, Fortune