Imperial College London

Imperial-founded company vital to UK’s first e-scooter wireless charging trial

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Charging pads from Bumblebee and electric scooters

Bumblebee Power and partners will lead the first trial of wireless charging for e-scooters in the UK, held at the University of Warwick.

Voi Technology, the UK’s largest e-scooter rental operator, has partnered with Bumblebee Power (Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) and WMG to trial the use of Bumblebee’s wireless e-scooter charging over a 6-month period, potentially changing the future of the micromobility industry.

As well as improving overall performance of the vehicles, the aim is that the project can demonstrate a reduction in operating costs for fleet vehicle charging and operators of extensive rental schemes.

Currently, vehicles are charged safely at warehouses, with batteries replaced and switched out during maintenance checks. Swedish-founded company Voi aims to challenge this process and associated infrastructure, and one way is by adopting wireless charging – which is where Bumblebee comes in.

The wireless charging pads designed with Bumblebee’s proprietary technology make it possible to charge e-scooters where they are parked, reducing not only operational costs but make their integration into the street and transport infrastructure more streamlined, making the modal shift to a convenient and flexible mode of transport easier for new and existing riders.

If successful at the University of Warwick’s ‘living lab’, where estate staff across the university’s campus will trial the efficacy of the technology and the new infrastructure, then it could be expanded to cover more of the Voi fleet across the UK.

David Yates, CTO of Bumblebee Power explains: “The Bumblebee patented technology provides automatic connection via a very efficient wireless charging system, saving operational expenditure for the fleet operator by eliminating battery swaps.

“In addition, it makes possible the ability to extend the battery’s life, by controlling the charging regime whilst maximising vehicle availability.”

Sam Pooke, Senior Policy Manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Bumblebee Power to develop wireless charging for our e-scooters, an innovation that could change the whole micromobility industry.

“Applying this technology has the potential to not only reduce the operational impact of how we charge batteries for our vehicles but also in making an already convenient and flexible service even more accessible for new and existing riders. Over the coming months, we’ll look forward to working with our partners to maximise the innovative potential of this technology.”

David Evans, Lead Engineer at WMG, University of Warwick, said:
“Wireless charging technology for micromobility has the potential to reduce operational costs for fleet operators and provide a convenient charging solution for users. The University of Warwick campus is an ideal location to trial transport innovations such as these, providing a real world, mini city environment with world class teaching and research facilities.”

Support leads to success: Bumblebee Power’s enterprising journey  

The progress of Bumblebee has been closely supported across the College, especially in the Enterprise Division. The company raised over £750,000 in November 2021, including an investment from the Imperial College Enterprise Fund.

Dr David Yates was also one of a number of successful participants to have benefitted from Enterprise’s Techcelerate programme, which supports early career researchers to develop their ideas from concepts into viable businesses or technologies suitable for the market.

For more information about the Enterprise Division, and to subscribe to the newsletter, visit the Imperial Enterprise website.


Adapted from a press release by Voi Technologies. (LINK)

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Mike Jones

Mike Jones
Enterprise

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Email: michael.jones1@imperial.ac.uk

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