Utah State University spin-out receives $2.7 million federal transportation grant

Utah State University has hit a significant milestone toward creating the public transportation system of the future, starting – of all places – on the University of Utah campus. WAVE, Inc., a USU spin-out company, has received $2.7 million from the Federal Transit Administration to electrify a bus route on the U of U campus. The funds will be dispersed via the Utah Transit Authority. Using wireless power transfer technology developed at USU by the USTAR-supported Energy Dynamics Laboratory, WAVE tackles the problem of heavy and expensive electric vehicle batteries by using inductive power to transfer electricity between vehicle and roadway. WAVE capabilities transfer energy wirelessly to stationary vehicles using infrastructure embedded in the roadway to vehicle-mounted receiver plates. This wireless charging ability reduces battery size requirements and allows for continuous use of the electric vehicle. WAVE’s solution for bus routes will electrify sections of roadway at specific intervals—where a bus loads and unloads passengers, and where it waits to begin its next route. The installation on the U of U campus aims to demonstrate the viability of large-scale mass transit systems powered by wireless power transfer. The FTA grant is part of a capital investment program to reduce transit system energy consumption and to reduce emissions. According to WAVE CEO Wesley Smith, “WAVE is the result of two main efforts; one is the responsive technology commercialization model that USU has put in place under the leadership of Rob Behunin, and the second is the support that USTAR has given to this commercialization effort, including the initial financing of the Energy Dynamics Laboratory.”

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