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USU's Wirelessly Charged Electric Bus Wins Innovation of the Year

At the annual Utah Governor’s Energy Development Summit in Salt Lake City in January, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Sen. Orrin Hatch awarded Utah State University’s Wireless Power Transfer team the Energy Technology Innovation of the Year award for its work on the Aggie Bus.

The Aggie Bus is the first wirelessly powered electric bus developed and designed in North America. The bus is a robust prototype that transfers 25 kilowatts of power over an air gap from a pad mounted on the undercarriage of the bus and another pad mounted in the roadway at specified bus stop locations. As the bus stops to pick up passengers, power can be transferred to the battery with approximately 90 percent efficiency even if the pads are misaligned by as much as six inches. The ability to recharge the battery slowly throughout the day tackles the problem of heavy and expensive electric vehicles, and allows the bus to run its route all day without significant downtime for recharging.

The Energy Technology Innovation of the Year award recognizes individuals, universities or companies that design or implement innovative or technological breakthroughs in energy programs, strategies, purchases, processes, designs or inventions.

“The development of the Aggie Bus and the honor of receiving an award like this is a real milestone achievement for Utah State University,” said Robert T. Behunin, USU vice president of commercialization and regional development. “The benefits of the Aggie Bus technology reach far beyond convenience, this is a technology that is poised to revolutionize the field of transportation.”

The Aggie Bus was first unveiled to the public in November 2012, making its way as far as New York City where it was featured on a jumbotron in Times Square. Now, the wireless power transfer team continues to build upon its prototype and has plans to increase power transfer loads every six months. Commercialization efforts continue to move forward with WAVE, Inc., a Utah State University spin-out company that works in cooperation with the wireless power transfer team to further development of the technology. WAVE, in partnership with the Utah Transit Authority, will launch its first commercial demonstration in mid-2013 on the University of Utah campus.

“One of the dreams of any engineer is to build things that one day can go out in the world and revolutionize an industry,” said Hunter Wu, director of USU’s Commercial Product Development. “It’s a great honor to win the Governor’s Energy Technology Innovation of the Year award because it validates the relevancy of the technology we are working on.”

Contact and Writer: Kate Peterson, USU Commercialization and Regional Development, 435-797-9608, kate.peterson@usu.edu