Electric buses may be becoming more convenient than their gas counterpart with the new advent in Switzerland of the electric vehicles being able to flash charge in 15 seconds. The most common method of recharging the electric vehicles is with a direct connection to a power line. Those power lines have been deemed by some observers as unsightly, and cause considerable infrastructure and construction to create.
This new advancement could make those power lines a thing of the past by running the electric buses only on batteries. Previously, this has caused issues in keeping the batteries charged without inconveniencing passengers. In Geneva, Switzerland, the Trolleybus Optimization Alimentation (TOSA) pilot experiment is testing a unique way of keeping the vehicles charged. The articulated bus has a battery system on the roof of the vehicle. As it pulls into certain stops, the battery system connects to a robotic arm which is essentially a bus dock. The dock administers a rapid flash charge to the battery, keeping the bus running all day. The elimination of power lines may grant the transportation services more flexibility.
Each one of the electric buses can hold 133 passengers. The flash charge supplies the vehicle with enough energy to get to the next charging station, which is usually a few stops away. The primary goal of the TOSA initiative is to determine the most efficient and cost effective method to implement electric buses in mass transportation. The system, and buses, were built by ABB – a Zurich based corporation known for developing automation, power, and robotic technologies, in cooperation with École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne-a Swiss technology institute.
Getting to the test phase of practical implementation in Switzerland of the electric buses that can flash charge in 15 seconds required the use of a complicated mathematical model that takes into account variables such as the cost of batteries, the placement of the recharging stations, and electricity rates. Geneva is the first city to test the project, and it is projected by TOSA representatives that they will fully adopt the system.
The electric buses in Switzerland do more than flash charge in 15 seconds.They have added benefits in that they do not emit any harmful carbon, and they are very quiet. TOSA plans to use this technology to replace subways, trolleys, and cable cars. The buses in Geneva are being promoted as a “zero emissions” form of transportation. This is because the electricity used to charge the batteries comes from hydropower. The bus line currently transports passengers to and from the Geneva airport and the city’s international exhibition center, Palexpo.
During testing, almost all of the electric buses were fully recharged before all passengers were on board and ready to go. Claes Rytoft, ABB’s CTO, said that this project will pave the way for more cost effective, flexible, and environmentally friendly methods of transportation while reducing pollution and noise. Feedback from commuters has been almost entirely positive with patrons complimenting the smoothness and lack of “grumbly” noise that is common on traditional gas powered buses.
By Andres Loubriel