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Tesla Would Be Proud: Wireless Charging For Electric Cars Gets Closer To Reality

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the get-amped dept.

Japan 176

curtwoodward writes "For some reason, we're still plugging in electric-powered devices like a bunch of savages. But technology developed at MIT could soon make that a thing of the past, at least for hybrid cars. A small Boston-area company, WiTricity, is a key part of Toyota's growing experiment with wireless charging tech---something the world's largest car maker says it will start seriously testing in the U.S., Japan and Europe next year. The system works by converting AC to a higher frequency and voltage and sending it to a receiver that resonates at the same frequency, making it possible to transfer the power safely via magnetic field. Intel and Foxconn are also investors, and you might see them license the tech soon as well."

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176 comments

Efficient? (5, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45608359)

Whether or not it catches on will depend mostly on efficiency. If the losses are minimal, it makes sense to eliminate mechanical connections.

Re:Efficient? (2)

Ignacio (1465) | about 4 months ago | (#45608547)

Even if it isn't terribly efficient, it could still mean that your car could charge almost anywhere you park it. Traditional wired charging could be used at service stations where speed is more important than convenience.

Re:Efficient? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 months ago | (#45608731)

Considering the price of energy and the whole economic crisis, a lot of people would probably rather plug in manually if the losses are any more than a couple of percent. Even 1% would probably put a lot of people off if they were aware of it.

Re:Efficient? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608911)

Considering the price of energy and the whole economic crisis, a lot of people would probably rather plug in manually if the losses are any more than a couple of percent. Even 1% would probably put a lot of people off if they were aware of it.

Millions of people still insist on using incandescent light bulbs. Do you think the majority would give a damn about 1%?

Re:Efficient? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#45609159)

Considering the price of energy and the whole economic crisis, a lot of people would probably rather plug in manually if the losses are any more than a couple of percent. Even 1% would probably put a lot of people off if they were aware of it.

Millions of people still insist on using incandescent light bulbs. Do you think the majority would give a damn about 1%?

Truly, most people care about the 99% and are unaware of the loss of power to the 1% -- the 5 cars, summer home in Barbados, tax shelters, er, oh... sorry; got carrried away there. Most people just consider these alternating currents of reality to be the flux of the excited fringe.

Re:Efficient? (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#45608935)

Considering the price of energy and the whole economic crisis, a lot of people would probably rather plug in manually if the losses are any more than a couple of percent. Even 1% would probably put a lot of people off if they were aware of it.

Would they? I'm not so sure. According to Wikipedia, the cost of power to drive 25 miles in an electric car [wikipedia.org] is in the $1-$2 range. So even a 10% inefficiency would only cost drivers an additional 10 to 20 cents per commute. Would people spend that extra money to avoid the hassle of plugging and unplugging their car every day? Based on the number of dimes I see abandoned on the ground because nobody can be bothered to pick them up, I think many people would -- especially those who are wealthy enough to afford an electric car in the first place.

If this device recharges more slowly than the plug-in method, OTOH, that could be a problem.

Re:Efficient? (3, Insightful)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#45609001)

Considering that some people will drive an extra 3 miles to go to a gas station that's just 4 cents cheaper per gallon, yeah, a lot of people probably would.

Re:Efficient? (1)

killkillkill (884238) | about 4 months ago | (#45609015)

I doubt that electric car consumers are different than gaosoline car consumers. They are more worried about what people think about their car purchase than the economic impact of the fuel (ie big shinny SUVs). Electric car owners cars say "I love the Earth more than you" and if they don't have to touch a dirty plug, all the better for them.

Re:Efficient? (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#45609649)

Even if it isn't terribly efficient, it could still mean that your car could charge almost anywhere you park it

Why park? If our freeways could power electric cars wirelessly, you could drive forever without stopping to recharge. Line the freeway median with solar panels, and the loss of wireless transmission is offset by minimizing losses through power lines and battery storage.

Re:Efficient? (3, Insightful)

Z_A_Commando (991404) | about 4 months ago | (#45608611)

Whether or not it catches on will depend mostly on efficiency. If the losses are minimal, it makes sense to eliminate mechanical connections.

Efficiency will definitely play a part, but I think more important will be Convenience, Cost, and Coverage.

When you get an electric car, you need to plug it in every time you get home so that the charge is topped off and you never leave with a near empty battery. If all you have to do is drive over a special mat or the technology is embedded in the floor/pavement/whatever then that will be infinitely more convenient because it doesn't add any extra steps when you park your car.

If the mats cost a fortune to install or require significant upgrades to a home's existing infrastructure (a la a 220V system) they'll be less likely to be deployed. If they're sold separate from the car purchase, that could cause another issue.

Finally, if there are a bunch of competing standards or the technology doesn't catch on very widely the coverage for installations in semi-public areas like parking lots would likely never happen, leaving a large amount of city dwellers unable to get on the bandwagon.

Re:Efficient? (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 4 months ago | (#45608961)

*If the mats cost a fortune to install or require significant upgrades to a home's existing infrastructure (a la a 220V system) they'll be less likely to be deployed.*

Not really different than having another panel installed for a central A/C IMO. But the biggest point is the efficiency of wireless charging.

Re:Efficient? (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#45608661)

There is a lot to say about convenience over efficiency. Now if the price to charge per mile is still less then gasoline then it will probably still work. If we could get off the grid for a lot of this stuff with say Solar Power Stations setup at stores parking and offer it for free it will be a big hit, even if it means you can add a few miles when you are parked for a half an hour.

Re:Efficient? (2)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#45608835)

That tends to be the main problem. Tesla assumed that power would be too cheap to meter and thus efficiency wouldn't be an issue, but that never really panned out
Even if you direct it to try to reduce loss, it is still extremely wasteful and last time I checked keeping up with electricity demand is already a looming problem.

I actually have seen wireless power used in some situations though, mainly places where the distances are small and it is cheaper to broadcast power then run a bunch of wires or traces to individual components.

Re:Efficient? (1)

es330td (964170) | about 4 months ago | (#45608989)

Given that an "efficient" diesel internal combustion engine is only about 40% efficient, if electricity can be generated by non-fossil fuel sources like wind or solar it doesn't have to be efficient, especially since most driving takes place in daylight hours when potential wind and solar energy are at their peaks. All we have to do is get the Green supporters to kick some NIMBY butts and this has promise.

Re:Efficient? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45609185)

The choice between mechanical and inductive field charging has nothing to do with electric vs fuel vehicles. It is about which choice makes sense for charging electric vehicles. Whether or not they achieve mass adoption is a completely different discussion.

Re:Efficient? (0)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 4 months ago | (#45609059)

I think it's the wave of the future. And the way Tesla has been catching fire lately, it's pretty obvious that people out there are burning to own electric cars.

Re:Efficient? (1)

craftycoder (1851452) | about 4 months ago | (#45609165)

Quoting a friend, "Magnetic fields have to follow Maxwell equations. Aperture is defined in wavelength, so higher frequency can be more directive. Presume power only applied to the pad when a car has been sensed. Radio effects and power levels to transfer limit frequency selection, so this is still going to be modest directivity. Drive-on charging pad can't couple efficiently if the car body is metal (conductive), so efficiency will be very low."

Yes, it is (2)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 4 months ago | (#45609745)

Charging my car and my devices while driving down the road is extremely efficient. The cost of infrastructure required to support this gain in efficiency is another discussion.

Always been possible (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#45608363)

The fundamental physical principles of electromechanics have always allowed this, but safety and efficiency concerns couldn't really be mitigated without good sensors.

bad BIOS saga continues - 12/13 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608367)

Scientist-developed malware prototype covertly jumps air gaps using inaudible sound
-
Malware communicates at a distance of 65 feet using built-in mics and speakers.

by Dan Goodin - Dec 2, 2013 7:29 pm UTC

http://arstechnica.com/author/dan-goodin [arstechnica.com]
https://twitter.com/dangoodin001 [twitter.com]

"Dan is the IT Security Editor at Ars Technica, which he joined in 2012 after working for The Register, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, and other publications."

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/ [arstechnica.com]

-
Topology of a covert mesh network that connects air-gapped computers to the Internet:

http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/acoustical-mesh-network.jpg [arstechnica.net]

http://www.jocm.us/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=124&id=600 [www.jocm.us]
-

"Computer scientists have proposed a malware prototype that uses inaudible audio signals to communicate, a capability that allows the malware to covertly transmit keystrokes and other sensitive data even when infected machines have no network connection.

The proof-of-concept software-or malicious trojans that adopt the same high-frequency communication methods-could prove especially adept in penetrating highly sensitive environments that routinely place an "air gap" between computers and the outside world. Using nothing more than the built-in microphones and speakers of standard computers, the researchers were able to transmit passwords and other small amounts of data from distances of almost 65 feet. The software can transfer data at much greater distances by employing an acoustical mesh network made up of attacker-controlled devices that repeat the audio signals.

The researchers, from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics[1], recently disclosed their findings in a paper published in the Journal of Communications[2]. It came a few weeks after a security researcher said his computers were infected with a mysterious piece of malware that used high-frequency transmissions to jump air gaps[3]. The new research neither confirms nor disproves Dragos Ruiu's claims of the so-called badBIOS infections, but it does show that high-frequency networking is easily within the grasp of today's malware."

[1] http://www.fkie.fraunhofer.de/en.html [fraunhofer.de]
[2] http://www.jocm.us/index.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=124&id=600 [www.jocm.us]
[3] http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/10/meet-badbios-the-mysterious-mac-and-pc-malware-that-jumps-airgaps/ [arstechnica.com]

""In our article, we describe how the complete concept of air gaps can be considered obsolete as commonly available laptops can communicate over their internal speakers and microphones and even form a covert acoustical mesh network," one of the authors, Michael Hanspach, wrote in an e-mail. "Over this covert network, information can travel over multiple hops of infected nodes, connecting completely isolated computing systems and networks (e.g. the internet) to each other. We also propose some countermeasures against participation in a covert network."

The researchers developed several ways to use inaudible sounds to transmit data between two Lenovo T400 laptops using only their built-in microphones and speakers. The most effective technique relied on software originally developed to acoustically transmit data under water. Created by the Research Department for Underwater Acoustics and Geophysics in Germany, the so-called adaptive communication system (ACS) modem was able to transmit data between laptops as much as 19.7 meters (64.6 feet) apart. By chaining additional devices that pick up the signal and repeat it to other nearby devices, the mesh network can overcome much greater distances.

The ACS modem provided better reliability than other techniques that were also able to use only the laptops' speakers and microphones to communicate. Still, it came with one significant drawback-a transmission rate of about 20 bits per second, a tiny fraction of standard network connections. The paltry bandwidth forecloses the ability of transmitting video or any other kinds of data with large file sizes. The researchers said attackers could overcome that shortcoming by equipping the trojan with functions that transmit only certain types of data, such as login credentials captured from a keylogger or a memory dumper.

"This small bandwidth might actually be enough to transfer critical information (such as keystrokes)," Hanspach wrote. "You don't even have to think about all keystrokes. If you have a keylogger that is able to recognize authentication materials, it may only occasionally forward these detected passwords over the network, leading to a very stealthy state of the network. And you could forward any small-sized information such as private encryption keys or maybe malicious commands to an infected piece of construction."
Remember Flame?

The hurdles of implementing covert acoustical networking are high enough that few malware developers are likely to add it to their offerings anytime soon. Still, the requirements are modest when measured against the capabilities of Stuxnet, Flame, and other state-sponsored malware discovered in the past 18 months. And that means that engineers in military organizations, nuclear power plants, and other truly high-security environments should no longer assume that computers isolated from an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection are off limits.

The research paper suggests several countermeasures that potential targets can adopt. One approach is simply switching off audio input and output devices, although few hardware designs available today make this most obvious countermeasure easy. A second approach is to employ audio filtering that blocks high-frequency ranges used to covertly transmit data. Devices running Linux can do this by using the advanced Linux Sound Architecture in combination with the Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API. Similar approaches are probably available for Windows and Mac OS X computers as well. The researchers also proposed the use of an audio intrusion detection guard, a device that would "forward audio input and output signals to their destination and simultaneously store them inside the guard's internal state, where they are subject to further analyses."

* * *
Update
* * *

On Wednesday Hanspach issued the following statement:

        Fraunhofer FKIE is actively involved in information security research. Our mission is to strengthen security by the means of early detection and prevention of potential threats. The research on acoustical mesh networks in air was aimed at demonstrating the upcoming threat of covert communication technologies. Fraunhofer FKIE does not develop any malware or viruses and the presented proof-of-concept does not spread to other computing systems, but constitutes only a covert communication channel between hypothetical instantiations of a malware. The ultimate goal of the presented research project is to raise awareness for these kinds of attacks, and to deliver appropriate countermeasures to our customers.

Story updated to add "prototype" to the first sentence and headline and to change "developed" to "proposed," in the first sentence. The changes are intended to make clear the researchers have not created a piece of working malware."

-
RE: #badBIOS, badBIOS, bad BIOS
-

* * *
Some User Comments:
* * *

"What makes so many people here think that getting a computer first infected is such an impossible task?

Who is to To say computers don't come pre-configured with that ability in hardware, say the CPU? We know that the NSA has altered silicon in the "distant" past and if there is anything recent revelations have taught us then it is that things have only ever become technically more advanced and aggressive in the last ten years or so.

Remember: just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you....Australia being happy to share medical records of its ordinary citizens being a prime example of that in today's press."

Amadeus71 Smack-Fu Master, in traininget Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785017#comment-25785017 [arstechnica.com]

-

"This was controversial at the time Dragos Ruiu brought it up. My guess was that it was possible, I'm glad to see someone actually put in the hard work to find out! Good job Fraunhofer."

MujokanArs Praetorian

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785087#comment-25785087 [arstechnica.com]

-

"Human hearing also gets worse at high frequencies before cutting out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour [wikipedia.org]

Several years ago, I had a neighbor with an old-fangled CRT TV. I couldn't hear its 15.9kHz squeal from my apartment, but it did show up clearly in spectral graphs of recordings I made while it was on. It's not hard to imagine something using audio band frequencies at volumes low enough to escape audibility but still able to be picked up by nearby microphones."

LnxPrgr3 Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785217#comment-25785217 [arstechnica.com]

-

"The signal can be hidden in fully audible sounds, so that wouldn't help much. As other commenters have alluded, using spread-spectrum techniques, a signal can be hidden in a way that looks like just part of the ambient noise environment, at many different frequencies, perhaps both at the same time and in a time-varying distribution. For example, if there is a fan (perhaps a notebook fan) going in the environment, that can be measured, and information could be encoded in a slight deformation of that sound signature, in a way that no one would notice. Or if someone is speaking, tiny undetectable side-frequencies could be added in a way that sounds like part of their voice, but isn't really. Or if you use a random spread-spectrum approach, it could just sound like a slight bit of white noise in the background, a little hiss, that mingles with all the noise around you.

Be afraid. In cyberspace, all microphones can hear you scream."

AreWeThereYeti Ars Scholae Palatinaeet Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25785535#comment-25785535 [arstechnica.com]
-

"If you're breaking your laptop open to put a capacitor across your speaker why not cut the wires or put a mechanical switch in instead?"

Wickwick Ars Scholae Palatinae

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25786631#comment-25786631 [arstechnica.com]
-

"Personally I would physically disable every mic and speaker on these air-gapped computers, juts in case."

blacke Ars Praetorianet Subscriptor

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25789071#comment-25789071 [arstechnica.com]
-

"I wonder if you couldn't just cut off a jack from some old headphones, and keep it plugged in as a countermeasure..."

zantoka Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25791713#comment-25791713 [arstechnica.com]
-

"NorthGuy wrote:
My florescent light has been buzzing for weeks, do you think it's trying to hack my computer?"

Li-Fi

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128225.400-will-lifi-be-the-new-wifi.html [newscientist.com]

Jimmy McNulty Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25792319#comment-25792319 [arstechnica.com]
-

"are the sounds in their [mainstream] music transmitting data to invaded brains?"

DaHum Smack-Fu Master, in training

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/?comments=1&post=25799877#comment-25799877 [arstechnica.com]

-

The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.

-

* * *
Related Story:
* * *

Researchers create malware that communicates via silent sound, no network needed

"When security researcher Dragos Ruiu claimed malware dubbed "badBIOS"[1] allowed infected machines to communicate using sound waves alone-no network connection needed-people said he was crazy. New research from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics suggests he's all too sane.

As outlined in the Journal of Communications (PDF)[2] and first spotted by ArsTechnica[3], the proof-of-concept malware prototype from Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz can transmit information between computers using high-frequency sound waves inaudible to the human ear. The duo successfully sent passwords and more between non-networked Lenovo T400 laptops via the notebooks' built-in microphones and speakers. Freaky-deaky!

"The infected victim sends all recorded keystrokes to the covert acoustical mesh network. Infected drones forward the keystroke information inside the covert network till the attacker is reached."

The most successful method was based on software developed for underwater communications. The laptops could communicate a full 65 feet apart from each other, and the researchers say the range could be extended by chaining devices together in an audio "mesh" network, similar to the way Wi-Fi repeaters work.

While the research doesn't prove Ruiu's badBIOS claims, it does show that the so-called "air gap" defense-that is, leaving computers with critical information disconnected from any networks-could still be vulnerable to dedicated attackers, if attackers are first able to infect the PC with audio mesh-enabled malware."

[1] http://www.pcworld.com/article/2060360/security-researcher-says-new-malware-can-affect-your-bios-be-transmitted-via-the-air.html [pcworld.com]
[2] http://www.jocm.us/uploadfile/2013/1125/20131125103803901.pdf [www.jocm.us]
[3] http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/scientist-developed-malware-covertly-jumps-air-gaps-using-inaudible-sound/ [arstechnica.com]

-

Sending data via sound

http://images.techhive.com/images/article/2013/12/air-gap-keystrokes-100154940-orig.png [techhive.com]

-

"Transmitting data via sound waves has one glaring drawback, however: It's slow. Terribly slow. Hanspach and Goetz's malware topped out at a sluggish 20 bits-per-second transfer rate, but that was still fast enough to transmit keystrokes, passwords, PGP encryption keys, and other small bursts of information.

"We use the keylogging software logkeys for our experiment," they wrote. "The infected victim sends all recorded keystrokes to the covert acoustical mesh network. Infected drones forward the keystroke information inside the covert network till the attacker is reached, who is now able to read the current keyboard input of the infected victim from a distant place."

In another test, the researchers used sound waves to send keystroke information to a network-connected computer, which then sent the information to the "attacker" via email.

Now for the good news: This advanced proof-of-concept prototype isn't likely to work its way into everyday malware anytime soon, especially since badware that communicates via normal Net means should be all that's needed to infect the PCs of most users. Nevertheless, it's ominous to see the last-line "air gap" defense fall prey to attack-especially in an age of state-sponsored malware run rampant."

#

The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.

##

EOT

I would like to turn my nerd card in (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#45608369)

When I read Tesla in the title, my first thought was the car manufacturer. It wasn't until a few minutes later I realized it was referring to the inventor. If someone would kindly give me the proper address, I will hand in my nerd card. I'm sorry, everyone.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 4 months ago | (#45608427)

Moreover, none of the nerds here have noticed yet that Tesla would not be proud of this. He was trying to do wireless power across nations and oceans not inductive coupling at short range. Magnetic coupling falls off at very short range compared to propagating waves.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (2)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 4 months ago | (#45608445)

I agree. I think Tesla would be like "What's taking your fuckers so long?"

What's taking them so long? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608525)

They just don't have the charge required to move forward.

  *da dum ching*

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#45608463)

I have written several papers through out my life about Tesla. The fact that everyone goes on and on about the stuff Tesla didn't invent and has no clue about the work he actually did is annoying as hell.

The Oatmeal ruined pretty much everything about Tesla.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608583)

Your incredibly informative post really helps clarify matters for me! I had no idea that that was what he actually did!

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609189)

I had no idea that that was what he actually did!

It's okay, you still know more about him than geekoid does.

Re: I would like to turn my nerd card in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608837)

Tesla was a cool inventor. But he fancied himself a scientist. Eg, he showed that EM waves propagate through the earth faster than the speed of light. Ie, he wasn't a very good scientist. Still, he was a cool inventor.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608875)

The Oatmeal did more Tesla-related good yesterday than you ever have, will, or could, and you know it. You're just hoping to get some hipster cred by treating Tesla like some indie band that you were into before they got popular.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (3, Interesting)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 4 months ago | (#45608919)

So what exactly did the oatmeal get wrong?

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla [theoatmeal.com]

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609313)

The Oatmeal should be super popular around here. Smug, pointlessly over-intellectualized "comedy" written by someone who comes across as not having left the basement in 20 years. Truly a Slashdot hero.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (3, Interesting)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 4 months ago | (#45609217)

The problem with Tesla is that so much of his work has been mythologized that a lot of people have come to sort of dismiss it out of hand. It seems like every biographical portrayal of him in popular culture has to make him off as some sort of mystical magician, nutcase, or miracle worker. I remember an "In Search Of" episode when I was a kid that claimed he had built Stonehenge, developed a teleporter, and communicated with aliens. And don't get me started on his portrayal in The Prestige [wikipedia.org].

I was well into my adulthood before I realized that he was an actual engineer who built real stuff, and not just some conspiracy theorist's concoction. As a kid, he went into the same category to me as Uri Geller and the aliens who built the pyramids.

Re:I would like to turn my nerd card in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609563)

Wat did The Oatmeal ruin about tesla ?

Wireless is more expensive and less efficient (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608383)

Only someone trying to sell wireless charging tech would describe people who plug in as savages.

Re:Wireless is more expensive and less efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609183)

"Plug in as savages" ... hmm, what would dr. Freud make of that?

Efficiency? Power? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608399)

If you want to pay 10% more to charge your car at slow L2 speeds because you're too lazy to spend 10 seconds plugging it in at night and unplugging it in the morning, who am I to try and stop you?

Re:Efficiency? Power? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#45608859)

Unless it is really close range or carefully directed, we are more likely to be looking at 10% transfer then 10% loss.

Energy transfer efficiency? (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45608401)

Unless the efficiency is high, you're basically paying more to charge your car than if you just plugged it in.

Re:Energy transfer efficiency? (-1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#45608475)

Oh shit, you better call them and let them know!

Re:Energy transfer efficiency? (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45608855)

I was basically responding to the first sentence of the summary.

Apparently I'm also a rather slow typist. After skimming the link to see if it answered my question, and typing the above, my post looked like it was the first one. I suppose there is no browser refresh after the post is submitted ...

Re:Energy transfer efficiency? (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#45609033)

Unless the efficiency is high, you're basically paying more to charge your car than if you just plugged it in.

True, but it can be like WiFi where the convenience trumps the inefficiency. Think public charging spaces - you park your car, pay the parking fee (which can include the cost of the charge) and walk away. You save yourself the hassle of bringing out your heavy charge cable and all that, saving it from potential theft (I haven't seen many that can lock to the car) and unplugging by activists (I haven't seen many with locking doors over the plug, either).

And yes, if it's wet and rainy, it's an added convenience.

(Yes, people do get offended by seeing an electric car plugged in and will often unplug them while charging).

Re:Energy transfer efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609351)

You don't pay in $$$ for the WiFi inefficiency. It is not like WiFi would decrease your ISP usage monthly allowance by 10 or 20% so that you have to pay extra.
On the other hand, a 90% efficiency in the Wireless power transfer effectively means you have raise your electricity price for charging by 11% by being lazy. Forget about being green etc.

Math: 1/90% = 111%

30 years ago I suggested this to my physics teache (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608417)

As a high school senior I asked why devices could get power wirelessly to my physics teacher. He laughed and said that would be too dangerous and not viable. Being a 16 year/old kid I said ok. Now if I was really smart I would have built a wireless power source.

I already have a device that does that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608447)

It's called a transformer. It transmits energy from one coil to another via a time-varying magnetic field and Ampere's Law, just like Qi and other "wireless" chargers do.

That they're doing it at a higher frequency is nothing novel or innovative.

Re:I already have a device that does that (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45608997)

Power transformers use inductive coupling; things like this typically use resonant inductive coupling. It's an important distinction. It's why the windings of a power transformer have to be very close together, whereas this sort of thing can tolerate much greater separation and still maintain a reasonable efficiency.

Nevertheless the article is amazingly short on information about how this tech is innovative, and why it's not just an application of something that's been in use for well over a century (e.g. Tesla coils). I'm not saying it isn't innovative, but you certainly can't tell that from the article.

And get arrested (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608473)

Man in Georgia (USA) gets arrested for charging his Honda Leaf at school (value 5 cents).
Will there be safeguards that if the system detects a "charge hotspot" it first checks for authorization before tapping the source.

Re:And get arrested (2)

drakaan (688386) | about 4 months ago | (#45608585)

Makes sense...the inability to bill for the supplied power was a major factor in Tesla's research not attracting funding. Hard to get investors when you can't charge for a charge.

Re:And get arrested (1)

es330td (964170) | about 4 months ago | (#45609045)

Satellite radios already know if they are allowed to decode the signal for a listener and EZ-Pass RFID works for toll roads. I am pretty sure the "is this car allowed to charge here" problems has already been solved.

so how will this work then (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608497)

Will I just install a pad in my driveway? What if you don't have a one?

The biggest problem I've found is that I live in a city without designated parking/ a garage/ anything of that matter, which makes it just about impossible to buy an electric car. Until there's a charging post on every spot, and all street parking converted into angle parking to accommodate the charging stations, you're missing out on a large percentage of where people live, and no other option except combustion engines. I am hoping you smart folks can offer suggestions on this issue.

Re:so how will this work then (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#45608733)

It doesn't take a charging station everywhere.

If you drive 100+ miles a day to random locations, or to one specific location with no ability to charge, then electric cars aren't for you.

If you drive 100 miles a day, and you've got any flexibility in it, just having a spot or two along your route to top off probably means you're viable in a "basic" electric car like the Leaf.

All you do with public charging is top off a few miles here and there while you go about your day as normal -- except with better parking spaces :)

It's all around you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608513)

To find the next clue, you need to be both like a tree and the Matterhorn.

Old news for buses (4, Interesting)

wren337 (182018) | about 4 months ago | (#45608541)

Italy has been using this for buses since 2003.
http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/08/induction-charged-buses/ [wired.com]

Re:Old news for buses (2)

k2backhoe (1092067) | about 4 months ago | (#45609231)

Good article with some believable numbers. But when transmitting 100 kW at 85% efficiency, you have to wonder what is happening to 15 kW of magnetic field. Where is it going, who is it affecting? Will my fillings heat up, or my cochlear implant overload if I am near by?

Wireless? Feh! (1)

the_skywise (189793) | about 4 months ago | (#45608571)

All we need to do is put poles with flexible wire strips on top of the cars and then put a wire mesh over all the roads that can be electrified so the cars can be charged while driving.

Works for bumper cars anyway!

(I used to joke about this but I really foresee the day when we charge our cars using a USB x.0 cable to both charge the car and sync its data (stereo, playlists, etc) nightly like we do our phones and tablets...)

So we're going to start using electric cars (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 4 months ago | (#45608573)

because they are energy efficient, and we're going to use wireless charging because it isn't? A wireless system will NEVER match the efficiency of plugging the thing in with wires.

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609047)

But imagine in the distant future where roads can be built with induction circuits for electric cars to use to power (or recharge) themselves as you drive, and be billed directly to you. Battery size can be reduced, lowering the vehicle weight significantly, making cars more efficient and allowing for smaller power units, needing less power. Get the picture?

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (1)

ai4px (1244212) | about 4 months ago | (#45609293)

I really like this idea.... charge the cars (or at least don't run down the batteries) while driving. It'd only have to be on the main roads. When you drive away from the road that has the inductive loop, the car runs on batteries. So on the main road, use power from the road, on the side streets, drive on battery power. Love it. Now how do we make sure that a car owner is billed for the power used? How to stop cars that don't pay from getting power?

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 4 months ago | (#45609547)

So you're going to be dumping power into this charging system embedded in roads, whether or not there is a car there to benefit from it. And how does that improve efficiency?

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609719)

They're dumping power into your house whether you're using it or not...how is that efficient?

(Do you see your mistake yet?)

It doesn't just disappear if it isn't in use...

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609073)

The efficiency is actually is pretty good being at 86% for existing product (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_charging.)
Also MIT has achieved 90% efficiency at a distance of 3 ft for 60 w light bulb.

But this is not news. Nissan has demonstrated wireless charger for Leaf almost a year ago and, as I remember, is planing to have it as an option in 2014 (http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/wcs.html.) And Bosch has one already available for purchase (http://www.pluglesspower.com/.)

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609229)

All this tech is really old, and 90% efficiency is pretty good for many applications where wires are a hindrence/extra cost.

All this research is just prototyping possible manufacturing methods, which will probably either go on the market or get held back depending on who's paying the grants/funding for the research. Whether they want to sit on the tech or be competative/anticompetative.

Last time I saw this news story was a few years ago, suprisingly here it is again. Probably just MIT getting funded by someone who was a little later to the show than one of the other patent trolls.

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609251)

because they are energy efficient, and we're going to use wireless charging because it isn't? A wireless system will NEVER match the efficiency of plugging the thing in with wires.

Unless they were installed at every stop light.

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 4 months ago | (#45609627)

You're confusing availability with efficiency. Efficiency is the ratio of the power received by the charging system in the car to the power supplied to the coil (or whatever) in the charging station. What you are talking about is improved availability, not efficiency, though it is doubtful that the limited time spent at stop light would allow much charging to take place- unless you intend to extend the duration of red lights...

Re:So we're going to start using electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609605)

We're not using electric cars because they are energy efficient. We're using them because they're trendy and expensive. We're using them to save the environment from oil dependency (because that's also trendy and expensive). And we're using them because they're quiet and low maintenance.

The fact that they are energy efficient is just a happy by product. If wireless charging makes them less energy efficient than gasoline powered cars, it's still a good deal.

Not in my garage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608701)

I own a Leaf, and I plug it in every night, using (gasp!) A WIRE!!! [insert dramatic music here]

I can't imagine myself ever going wireless for in-home charging simply because of the cost. Why pay what is surely a 4-figure sum for convenience and less efficient charging, when all I have to do is stick a plug in the nose cone of the car? It takes under 30 seconds, you can't get any more efficient, and I don't even think about it any more -- I just plug in and forget it.

Wireless public charging could make sense, especially for areas where drivers might not want to leave a plug hanging out of their car overnight.

Re:Not in my garage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608999)

Not everywhere you park your car has a plug.

So Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609081)

Not everywhere you park your car has a plug.

And even fewer places, that you park or drive your car, will EVER have inductive charging pads.

Re:Not in my garage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609019)

I know a few people who can easily omit one step from a task that contains two steps. For them, "park it and forget it" works better than "park it and plug it in".

energy is energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608755)

Not sure we want those amounts of energy shooting through the ether, and our bodies. Energy is energy no matter what frequency at which it's transmitted. I'd rather be able to avoid dirty air than something I can't see.

Re:energy is energy (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 4 months ago | (#45609145)

We disproved the atmosphere consisting out of ether before the beginning of the previous century. Air doesn't become "dirty" because there are microwaves or other electromagnetic waves going through it... *sigh* science 101

Tesla would punch us on the mouth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608775)

... for having ignored all his life work for this long time.

Health effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608825)

What kind of radiation are they using? Can it penetrate the skin?

If someone walks or stands between a transmitter and a receiver, will he get a burn / cancer?

Tesla proud?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608857)

Tesla was all about free energy for the people.

Intel and Foxconn are also investors, and you might see them license the tech soon as well

Me don't thinks Tesla would be proud of that.

Green issues matter except when they don't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608901)

There is NOTHING more irresponsible than wireless charging or wireless power 'transmission. It is the electrical equivalent of unfiltered smog from cars, or the worst kinds of chemical propellants in your aerosol spray cans.

Unneeded, unwarranted electro-magnetic pollution, with incredible inefficiencies for the task at hand, is nothing more than an unmitigated disgrace. What is wrong with cables? What is wrong with sockets? What is wrong with plugs. Are we now so infantile, the mere responsibility of plugging a device in is beyond us.

Tesla did NOT propose 'touch' wireless transfer. He proposed the laughable fantasy of useful transmission of electrical energy across a significant distance. The wireless solutions proposed today do NOT offer 'charging' over significant air gaps. They actually require a CLOSER proximity to the power source than existing cable techniques, but allow the feckless, the lazy, and the very very stupid to by-pass the need to arrange two objects geometrically so they can fit together.

Remember the idea of testing the 'IQ' of kids with different shaped blocks, and different shaped holes? Well apparently, Humanity is now so STUPID that fitting the right block into the right hole is deemed too complex a requirement!

And yet, connector technology, from the best firms, has advanced so much in the last decades. There is ZERO reason why any connector should be as badly designed as, for instance, Intel's USB standard. Or perhaps you are all so dumb, you think petrol (gas) should have had a 'wireless' solution where the petrol was jetted through the air with no pipe or nozzle, as the vehicle passed by. Funny how you can see what a nonsense this would be, but when it comes to something 'invisible' like electric current, the same idiot approach suddenly seems 'desirable'.

Re:Green issues matter except when they don't (1)

ai4px (1244212) | about 4 months ago | (#45609257)

It's not that fitting a square plug into a square hole is a problem.... its' that my wife doesn't want to get grime, dirt and salt on her hands to plug the car in. She wants to grab her purse and walk in the house. Convienance is the driving (pun??) factor here.

I Can't See It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45608925)

The amperage needed to charge an EV in a reasonable amount of time is very high! To transfer that much energy through induction is going to require that the induction pad be as powerful as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging system, or higher.

That would be some dangerous stuff.I don;t want to be near the likes of this [youtu.be].

This idea again? Nothing new, move along. (2, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#45609063)

Gee folks, the laws of physics pretty much govern how "wireless" transmission of energy works. Using magnetic fields to transfer power from here to there is not new, we've been doing it long before Edison and Westinghouse where fighting it out over AC verses DC over 100 years ago. Westinghouse used "transformers" way back then so transferring power from one coil of wire to another though a magnetic field is not new.

But they are using a different frequency! That's new right? Not so fast... Designers have been using higher frequencies in transformers for a long time now. Aircraft have routinely used 400 Cycle power systems so designers could use smaller (and lighter) transformers since before WWII. Further, we now routinely use frequencies in the Kilohertz in switching power supplies for the same reason. More efficiency, smaller size and weight by using higher frequencies.

But they really haven't solved anything or come up with anything new. They will suffer efficiency losses because their magnetic flux coupling is weak due to the distances involved, they will suffer from limited ability to transfer power because the maximum flux density of air is pretty low, and they will have to add significant weight to the cars being charged by adding large coils of wire with many turns to them.

Nothing new to see here..

Re:This idea again? Nothing new, move along. (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 4 months ago | (#45609451)

The caveat here is Witricity's patented light weight tuned "antenna". I took a tour of there facility once they have some neat stuff, the efficiency was pretty good at low power for large gaps... I can't imagine that it'll scale up to kW well tho.

Re:This idea again? Nothing new, move along. (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#45609697)

It won't scale up in power level. The usable flux density of air is going to throw a physics law wrench in their works. The distance between the car and the source is going to impose severe limits, unless there are some serious problems with our understanding of basic physics (which is highly unlikely at this point.)

Re:This idea again? Nothing new, move along. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609607)

YOU aren't familiar with the difference between power transfer by way of magnetic induction, and power transfer by way of *resonant* magnetic induction, so THEY haven't done anything new. :sigh:

There's a TED Talk where the prototype-level version of this technology was demoed. It's a few years old at this stage. It doesn't require minute distances, it has lower power losses than your typical 'wall wart' AC/DC converter, and transfer efficiency doesn't drop off with the square of the range.

Static application is stupid (1)

sugar and acid (88555) | about 4 months ago | (#45609087)

The static application of this, automatic charging while parked over a mat in a garage is not that interesting really. But what if sections of a similar technology was installed in interstates that could charge a car on the move? Cars with a receiving system, and a way to verify and bill the driver for the electricity while moving. We would then have electric cars with potentially infinite range.

That application we could take a bit of inefficiency for the convenience added.

Soundproof your walls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609103)

to prevent people from stealing your electricity...

Slashdot, home of the swing-and-a-miss smartass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609137)

For some reason, we're still plugging in electric-powered devices like a bunch of savages.

Look, I know you're aiming for "snarky quasi-ironic elitist who can afford an electric car and lives in an area with a strong electric car infrastructure", but you're coming off as "infomercial for people too stupid to properly operate a blanket".

What about radation? (1)

ai4px (1244212) | about 4 months ago | (#45609209)

With all the hype about cell phone radiation, what do you think it would be for a car charger? Of course the idea of having a loop on my garage floor that begins to charge when I park the car is very interesting. It'll probably have to have some interlock to make sure no people are nearby.

In the 1970s, EM radiation caused cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45609473)

In the U.S. during the 1970s, there was quite a bit of hysteria regarding the dangers of living near sources of electromagnetic radiation. A typical story would associate childhood leukemia with living in proximity of high-tension lines [wikipedia.org]. Is EM radiation no longer considered a health problem now?

My equally lazy but simple and 0 loss solution (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 months ago | (#45609299)

Jeez just have some sprung conductors in the floor of your garage that come up and touch corresponding contact points on the underside of the car whenever you park.
For safety, Include some trivial electronics to only power the conductors after a data handshake happens with the car. This both ensures the car is in contact properly and that its not say, your kids bike.

Is the cord really a problem? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 4 months ago | (#45609643)

Is the cord really a big problem when charging an electric car? I mean, I've never felt the need to have a gas pump that would squirt fuel right into the filler neck without using a hose...

I would have thought the biggest stumbling block to widespread charging infrastructure would be the truly ridiculous power feed that would be needed to charge a significant number of cars along long-haul routes.

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