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Qualcomm Shows Halo, Their Wireless Vehicle Charging Technology

Qualcomm Halo is one of qualcomms newest technologies that they are working on bringing to the wireless industry. Qualcomm Halo is Qualcomm’s wireless charging technology which they are implementing in vehicles. Currently they are being tested in vehicles ranging from high-end electric sports cars to itty bitty Citroen cars. They even have been tested in some Rolls Royces.

Qualcomm Halo is known as WEVC or Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging and enables your vehicle to wirelessly be charged from the grid without any wires. This by all means is not a new technology, but Qualcomm’s Halo technology is an improvement on that technology in a few ways.The two main factors that set Qualcomm Halo apart from the rest of WEVC is the fact that their technology allows for much more tolerance in the alignment of the wireless elements and the wireless elements do not have to be touching, in fact, they can be up to 200mm apart. This has a lot to do with the way that the wireless elements of the charging system are designed specifically for being far apart and not perfectly aligned. When it comes to their alignment, Qualcomm’s Halo technology has a tolerance of about 6 inches in any direction, depending on the size of the pad installed on the ground.

The base element of Qualcomm’s Halo Technology

Qualcomm’s current system for their Halo technology division is to integrate it into their technology portfolio for wireless as many electric cars are already beginning to implement wireless technologies for communication between the car and users. As such, Qualcomm sees this as an opportunity to broaden their wireless IP portfolio and to further facilitate their dominance in the wireless sector. Their revenue model does not involve the direct manufacturing and sale of the WEVC systems but rather the licensing and standardization of the wireless charging technologies to OEMs to sell to consumers. Qualcomm will collect a royalty on every single vehicle sold with their IP and they will use this model to recoup any R&D costs as well as to further the development of Qualcomm Halo.

The vehicle element on the underside of the car 

When it comes to effectiveness, Halo is capable of delivering a broad range of wattages to the battery inside of the vehicle. The wattages can range from watts to kilowatts depending on the power being delivered to the wireless elements. Usually, when talking about charging, one of the biggest issues is efficiency and charging time. Qualcomm claims that their Halo WEVC technology enables charging efficiencies comprable to that of traditional wired solutions and in some cases even better. This is possible because of the wireless communication capability of the AC/DC inverters that exist on both the base element as well as the vehicle element as well  as their unique coil design. Because the vehicle is able to communicate constantly with the grid and report back battery voltages, temperatures and capacity, the wireless charging system can improve efficiency by supplying the right amount of power to the battery when its needed. This will be most valuable when looking for dynamic applications of wireless charging rather than the current static model.

The real point of bringing this technology to market is the fact that the current model of physically plugging your vehicle in to a socket does not deliver a good user experience. Too many electric car owners are likely to forget to plug their vehicles in at night and far too many people will find themselves spending precious time unplugging and plugging in their vehicles every day. With wireless charging, users can simply forget the old model of taking your car to a gas station or electric charging port. Wireless charging allows for thought free charging that delivers a painless and zero effort experience. Imagine never having to go to the gas station or charging station ever again. Just park the car and the parking spot will do the rest.

Currently, Qualcomm is working closely with the City of London to test out their new Halo WEVC technology. They have already implemented Halo in a wide range of cars and will be testing them in a broader scale with 50 small Citroen Vehicles. The goal of this exercise is to introduce government to this technology as well as help Qualcomm take the technology from pre-commerical to commercial status where they can test the technology on a broader scale and resolve any issues before it even becomes commercial. As we’ve seen with some electric car technologies, a lack of wide scale testing can sometimes have catastrophic results.

Qualcomm’s vision for this technology in the future, beyond the current model of parking your vehicle in your garage or in a parking spot, is that they wish to have a dynamic charging model. They want to integrate the BCUs into road beds and to allow vehicles to have smaller batteries so that they can always be on the grid and using only the power they need and storing very little at a time. As a result of having smaller batteries, electric cars can be rangeless and actually decrease in cost and impact on the environment as the more expensive and environmentally detrimental parts of an electric car are usually the battery.

Drayson Racing’s LeMans Electric P2 Prototype Car

 (note the black pad on the left for charging capable of delivering 20KW to a 38KW vehicle)

With all of that said, we are happy to see a major technology company getting involved in the electric car business to facilitate an improved electric car experience. We are excited to see which companies will pick up this technology and in our conversations with Qualcomm Halo they indicated that most of their target market is in plug-in hybrids as those are the most prevalent electric vehicles on the market.