Electric buses are used around the world to help keep pollution down, but they aren't exactly ideal. They require the use of wires to keep bus routes together and the buses can't veer off these routes. And sometimes, these wires fall and injure passersby.
A team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are working on a more efficient electric bus that can charge its battery in just 15 seconds. So, when the bus stops to pick up passengers, it is already recharged by the time passengers get on and find a seat.
On flat routes, charging stations would be available in every three to four stops. For uphill routes, there would be extra charging stations and fewer going downhill again. When the bus, called TOSA, pulls up to a stop, the rooftop battery will automatically jump to the overhead charge, hook itself in and recharge.
A test run was so successful in Geneva that the city has already committed to replacing an entire line of buses with TOSA. They will also eventually replace their diesel-run buses.
"TOSA allows us to operate from early in the morning until late at night without noise," says Michèle Zollinger, one of the researchers, adding that the TOSA bus is relatively quiet. "The small and long lasting battery allows a dramatic reduction of the battery waste. TOSA is also compatible with renewable energy sources such as solar energy because of the charging during the day."
TOSA's cost is similar to that of traditional streetcar and trolley bus systems. However, as battery costs decrease, the TOSA's cost will become about the same as a diesel bus. The researchers are currently in talks to bring the new electric buses to other cities.
Learn more about TOSA in the video below.