West Miami-Dade

Florida International University

FIU students researching cutting-edge car charging technology


Special to the Miami Herald

A THINK electrical car was on display at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing Center on May 19. Florida Power and Light donated the vehicle to help students research wireless charging.

Soon wires won’t be needed to charge an electrical car because Florida International University is developing wireless charging and thanks to a donation by FPL it will help the new technology come to fruition.

Students and staff were at the FIU’s Ccollege of Engineering and Computing Center, 10555 West Flagler St., to unveil FPL’s donation, a matte black 2011 THINK electrical car.

Electrical and computer engineering students in the Energy Power & Sustainability Lab will use the electric car to further research and test wireless charging technology.

FIU professor Arif Sarwat says the breakthrough technology will help conserve the planet.

“We have calculated that this will reduce the green house gases and the rise of sea level in Miami,” he said. ”This is very critical to our community.”

FPL Vice President of distribution operations Bryan Olnick says the vehicle will serve several purposes for students.

“It is a great platform we can provide students here in the engineering college at FIU to continue their research on electric vehicles [and] wireless charging to help us in the state of Florida to promote and expand electric vehicles,” he said.

The vehicle, which can drive up to 70 miles per hour, will be stored at FIU. FPL also provided two charges.

For about two years, FIU students have researched how to charge items remotely. So far, they have a mock setup, but the electronic vehicle was the missing piece.

Olnick said people tend to forget to plug in their items, so the new technology will do away with wires.

“This way you drive your car, let’s say you have it (charging pad) on the base of your garage floor, and when you drive in at night you’ll be able to charge the car,” he said.

Currently, some vehicle companies like Toyota are testing wireless technology.

Mohammad Hadi Amini added that he is excited to work on the technology, but once students figure it out it won’t mean the end of it.

“It’s an ongoing project,” he said. “You don’t stop. We improve because efficiency doesn’t have any limits.”

Students will start testing with the car in the fall.

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