Fujimoto Laboratory of the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences at the University of Tokyo, NSK Ltd and Bridgestone Corporation recently announced the expansion of a joint research and development program for future creation spearheaded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). NSK and Bridgestone have been participating in the project since last year. The expanded efforts include a new agreement on the handling of basic patents resulting from the project, and an aggressive commitment to develop practical wireless charging systems for in-wheel motors installed in electric vehicles (EVs). For more information see the IDTechEx report on Energy Independent Electric Vehicles: Land, Water, Air 2018-2038.
The project is aiming at creating game-changing technologies based on new ideas and scientific breakthroughs to contribute to the realization of a more sustainable society that emits minimal amounts of CO2. The current phase of the project is set to run from 2018 to 2022 under the JST research theme of addressing the global need to realize a low-carbon society.
Of Japan's total CO2 emissions, 15% is attributable to emissions from automobiles. Automobile manufacturers around the world have been promoting the development and adoption of EVs in response to this trend and Europe is expected to roll out regulations on CO2 emissions from automobiles. Given these trends and anticipated demand for electric vehicles, it is possible a shortage of batteries for electric vehicles may happen in the near future. The JST project seeks to develop new technologies that will ensure sufficient driving distance for EVs with fewer batteries by installing motors inside EV wheels that are able to receive electric power directly from roads when driving or stopping. If realized, this system would address future battery shortages while also helping reduce the weight of EVs.
In this research and development project, the University of Tokyo is responsible for the formulation and iteration of the concept of wireless charging in-motion for in-wheel motors as well as for the research and development of fundamental technologies. NSK will oversee the development of in-wheel motors that are more easily incorporated into vehicles by utilizing technologies cultivated through previous in-wheel motor projects. They also will explore possible methods of installing the necessary wireless charging infrastructure into society. Bridgestone will lead the tire development process to foster the highly efficient supply of electricity to in-wheel motors during charging by the technology of the material for tires.
The future schedule for this project includes the design, prototyping, and verification of in-wheel motors and eventually the production of vehicles equipped with motors. By 2022, the project aims to test this system in vehicles equipped with newly developed tires. As a wide range of input from organizations and companies is incorporated into this system, the project team will move forward with development, targeting a transition to the verification testing phase by 2025.
The University of Tokyo, NSK, and Bridgestone have agreed to leave the basic patent rights associated with this project open. Accordingly, an intellectual property framework which corporations and organizations approved by the project steering committee will be able to use rights-protected technologies with license free will be established. Providing access to these technologies will facilitate open innovation that goes beyond the confines of the current joint research project. Through this project, The University of Tokyo, NSK and Bridgestone aim to contribute to the realization of a sustainable mobility society by promoting open innovation and merging technologies to improve the way people and goods move.
Source and top image: Bridgestone Corporation