Micromobility operator Voi has launched a UK-first wireless e-scooter charging trial.
The Swedish-based shared transport platform has partnered with charging tech company Bumblee Power and the University of Warwick, to trial wireless charging pads at parking locations in Warwick.
According to Voi, this new trial could help reduce operating costs, as it would allowed scooters to be charged in situ, without need to transport scooters back to Voi warehouses for battery replacements.
David Yates, chief technology officer at Bumblebee Power said: “The Bumblebee technology not only provides automatic connection via a very efficient wireless charging system, saving operational expenditure for the fleet operator by eliminating battery swaps, but also extends the battery’s life, by controlling the charging regime while maximising vehicle availability.”
Voi said, as with the charging of electric cars, the charging of e-scooters is a challenge for the operators of extensive rental schemes. The batteries powering these zero-emissions e-scooters are often charged at their warehouse, where they are replaced when vehicles receive their regular inspections, or by the company’s in-field team who visit each vehicle to perform battery swaps.
These processes can lead to high operating costs for all e-scooter businesses as they can be both time-consuming and often resource-intensive by requiring additional warehouse infrastructure for safe battery charging as well as transportation costs needed to perform swaps across the operating town or city.
Voi is exploring wireless charging technology as a way of reducing these operational costs.
In partnership with Bumblebee Power, Voi is trialling the use of wireless charging pads by retrofitting a number of e-scooters with technology enabling the vehicles to be charged where they are parked. The University of Warwick campus ‘mini-city’ environment has been selected for this wireless trial as it provides an excellent ‘living lab’ environment to safely test this innovative transport technology.
The success of the trial could mean not only reducing operational costs but make their integration into the street and transport infrastructure more streamlined and helping the modal shift to a convenient and flexible mode of transport easier for new and existing riders. The trial will provide data on the wireless system performance as well as user behaviour and interaction with the technology, which is crucial to any future large-scale deployment. If the trial proves successful it could be expanded to cover more of the Voi fleet across the UK.
Sam Pooke, senior policy manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Bumblebee Power and the University of Warwick to develop wireless charging for our e-scooters, an innovation that could change the whole micromobility industry.
“Applying this technology has the potential to not only reduce the operational impact of how we charge batteries for our vehicles but also in making an already convenient and flexible service even more accessible for new and existing riders. Over the coming months, we’ll look forward to working with our partners to maximise the innovative potential of this technology.”
David Evans, lead engineer at research group WMG, based at University of Warwick, said: “Wireless charging technology for micromobility has the potential to reduce operational costs for fleet operators and provide a convenient charging solution for users. The University of Warwick campus is an ideal location to trial transport innovations such as these, providing a real world, mini city environment with world-class teaching and research facilities.”
Bumblebee Power, based in London, is a developer of lightweight wireless charging technology for transport and mobility, founded by a team of academics from Imperial College London.