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Aggie Bus wins top award

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:02



USU’s wirelessly charged electric bus won Innovation of the Year at the Governor’s Energy Summit in January.

“This award is the state of Utah validating that Utah State University has created a cutting edge innovating technology,” said Robert T. Behunin, USU vice president of commercialization on regional development. “It will create a new landscape environment, and it will change how we look at mass transit.” 

“As we develop these technologies like inductive power transfer, it really is a validation that the external market, whether it be the political market or the commercial market, has validated as what we do as something significant,” Behunin said. 

Media interest about the Aggie Bus has gone international, from California to the Prague. The Aggie Bus was even featured on a jumbotron in Time Square.

The Aggie Bus is the world’s first electric bus with wireless power transfer technology joining a power level up to 25 kilowatts and 90 percent efficiency. 

There are two charging pads, one on the bus and another at the stop location. The bus driver will drive up, visually see where the charging pad is and make sure there are no objects on top of the pad. There is an alignment protocol and the system will let the driver know the bus is aligned. The driver will then press a button, to begin the charging process. 

The power is still able to transfer with a misalignment of up to six inches if the driver does not come to a completely on-target stop. 

The Wireless Power Transfer team and the USTAR Advanced Transportation Institute at USU developed this technology. 

“It is always good to develop something that could potentially revolutionize the world,” said Hunter Wu, director of USU’s Commercial Product Development.

The Aggie Bus can run about 45-55 miles on a fully charged battery at top speed. There are no tailpipe emissions. 

“The bus does not pollute cities and it is much easier to clean up one power plant than the 60,000 buses in America,” Wu said. 

USU owns the intellectual property to the wireless power transfer. 

“We have a spinout company, WAVE, which has licensed this property,” Behunin said. 

WAVE, which stands for Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification, is taking the intellectual property to the market and getting contracts with mass transit entities. The first commercial demonstration of the Aggie Bus will take place on the University of Utah’s campus through partnership with Utah Transit Authority and WAVE. It is a federally-funded project through a $2.7 million TIGGER grant.  

“The Aggie Bus is more than a prototype,” Behunin said. “It is an actual working product, but we need to go to higher kilowatts of power. This bus won’t be on campus for some time, but I hope someday it will.”



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