Currently, electric cars have a lot of hurdles to get over before they become a mainstream commodity. A big one is easily accessible power sources—and that's why Highways England is testing out charging lanes that will give power to electric cars driving over them.
The 18-month trial will get underway later this year, although not yet on public roads. The project has already completed a feasibility study and is now looking for companies to host off-road trials.
"What has been committed to is that by 2016 or 2017 we will hold off-road trials—in other words not on a public road," Stuart Thompson, a spokesman for Highways England, told the BBC. "It's still very early days. Where exactly the trials will be has yet to be determined."
Electric cables buried below the roads will generate electromagnetic fields, and the cars involved will don special wireless technology that can pick up the currents. Equipment will also be installed underneath test roads to replicate normal road conditions. More info on the plan's logistics will be released when a contractor has been appointed.
"The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities," Transport Minister Andrew Jones said. "The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector."
On a smaller scale, the town of Milton Keynes has already begun utilizing similar tech to recharge buses wirelessly using plates embedded in the road. The vehicles have to stay in one place for a few minutes for it to work, so it's less desirable than charging while on the go.
If testing doesn't go well, Highway England still plans to install plug-in charging points every 20 miles.