Mercedes-Benz to feature wireless charging based on Qualcomm tech

Qualcomm charging car
Image: Qualcomm

Daimler AG plans to launch a wireless electric vehicle charging (WEVC) system, manufactured by an unidentified Tier 1 power electronics supplier, using technology licensed by Qualcomm. Qualcomm said that with the facelift of the Mercedes-Benz S550e in 2018, Daimler will launch the first WEVC system among hybrid vehicles.

That means the owner of the car will be able to park it on top of a special pad overnight and it will start charging – no cables involved. The technology, which comes from Qualcomm’s Halo division, represents the first “plug-in vehicle” that will come with a wireless charging option from the automaker. After-market options for the most popular electric vehicles have been available for a few years now, noted Auto Blog.

Qualcomm has been working with automakers for quite some time to conduct testing and refine the WEVC, including with the official FIA Formula E Qualcomm Safety Car. On a race track, the safety car drives ahead of the pack and is used to control speeds if there’s an incident. Qualcomm said the lessons it learned on racetracks around the world led up to the consumer debut of the technology.

Qualcomm Halo uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy wirelessly from a ground-based pad to another pad integrated in the vehicle. Energy is transferred quickly to the automobile’s battery.

In the short term, Qualcomm said that proving WEVC’s commercial power will help expand the exploration for its use in pure electric vehicles, which have more demanding batteries than their hybrid counterparts. While the 3.6 kW WEVC system is adequate to charge a plug-in-hybrid battery, a pure electric vehicle with a 30-40 kWh battery will require double or even triple the charging power to fill up in a reasonable amount of time.

In the long term, “it marks an important step in making self-driving cars truly autonomous – you cannot call a car 'autonomous' if it cannot fuel/recharge itself,” Qualcomm said.

Last year, Qualcomm and Daimler announced a strategic collaboration focused on the connected car, so this development doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The two companies said the first phase of their collaboration would focus on transforming future vehicles with mobile technology that enhances in-car experiences and vehicle performance. Such features include wireless charging for in-vehicle use and implementation of the Halo WEVC technology for charging electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs without plugs.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm blog
- see this Motor Trend article
- see this Ars Technica article

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