A Brilliant Idea: Japanese Testing Electric Vehicle Charging at Traffic Lights

Japan has launched a pilot program to test electric vehicle charging while waiting at traffic lights. This intriguing innovation is being trialed not far from Tokyo. How far can these wireless chargers take you?

Charging Electric Vehicles at Traffic Lights

Close to Japan’s capital, Tokyo, specifically in the city of Kashiwa-no-ha, the testing of wireless electric vehicle charging at traffic lights has begun. The pilot project is a collaborative effort between universities in Tokyo and Chiba, along with nine other companies, including renowned tire manufacturer Bridgestone.

The charging system, developed by a Tokyo university, is now being tested for its charging capabilities and durability. The charging system consists of prefabricated charging coils embedded in the road surface in front of traffic lights. Wireless charging starts immediately when the system detects a vehicle above it.

How Many Kilometers Can This Charging Add?

For this charging to work, vehicles must be equipped with special equipment near their tires. According to scientists, just 10 seconds of driving over the coils should add about one kilometer of range. During a one-minute wait at a red light, it can potentially charge up to 6 kilometers of range, which is quite impressive for urban distances. If such a system were incorporated at every traffic light, the impact could be substantial.

The entire experiment will run from October to March 10, under the supervision of the Japanese Ministry of Transportation. If the pilot program is deemed successful, the system may be expanded to other intersections, not only in Kashiwa-no-ha but in other Japanese cities as well. 

What are your thoughts on this technology and the innovative use of it by the Japanese?

A Paradigm Shift in Urban Mobility

The electrification of transportation is on the rise worldwide, with governments and automakers pushing for more sustainable and eco-friendly modes of travel. In this context, Japan’s novel approach to charging electric vehicles during short stops at traffic lights is a welcome addition to the ongoing shift towards greener urban mobility.


1. Receiving coil – 2. Integrated road surface of the power transmission coil | Photo: Tokyo university

Pioneering Wireless Charging

Wireless charging technology has been advancing rapidly in recent years, making it a feasible solution for electric vehicles. The Japanese experiment capitalizes on this technology, transforming mundane traffic lights into charging stations. This approach reduces the reliance on traditional charging infrastructure, further facilitating the integration of electric vehicles into urban environments.

Imagine a future where your daily commute not only saves you money on fuel but also adds kilometers to your electric vehicle’s range without needing to make an extra stop for charging. The wireless charging concept could dramatically increase the convenience of owning an electric vehicle, potentially making them more attractive to consumers.

Reducing Range Anxiety

One of the primary concerns for electric vehicle owners is range anxiety—the fear of running out of charge before reaching a charging station. Japan’s innovative approach directly addresses this issue by enabling vehicles to replenish their batteries during routine stops at traffic lights. This technology could help alleviate range anxiety and boost the confidence of electric vehicle drivers.

Economic and Environmental Impact

Besides the convenience it offers, the wireless charging system at traffic lights could have significant economic and environmental benefits. It could reduce the demand for large, costly charging stations and minimize the need for on-street charging infrastructure. Furthermore, the reduction in idling vehicles waiting for a green light could lead to a decrease in urban air pollution.

The Future of Urban Mobility

Japan’s pilot program showcases the forward-thinking mindset necessary to shape the future of urban mobility. The success of this initiative could pave the way for more widespread adoption of wireless charging technology at traffic lights and beyond. As the world transitions to cleaner and more sustainable modes of transportation, innovative solutions like this are a beacon of hope for greener, smarter cities.

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