How is tech company Qualcomm illustrating the future of the connected car? By drifting a wirelessly charged BMW i8 around a racetrack, of course.
In August, we reported that Qualcomm was testing wireless charging technology for electric vehicles like the BMW i8 and i3. The ‘Halo’ system uses a magnetic field to reenergize an EV’s batteries in the same way that cordless smartphone chargers do.
The firm chose an interesting place to test its concepts, the FIA Formula E Gran Prix in Beijing, China. A competition for one-seater, electrically powered racecars, the event employed a BMW i8 and i3 as safety and extraction cars during its debut this past weekend.
The connection between Formula E and two Bimmers is obvious, but the telecommunications company chose the event as a testing ground for a very practical reason: the lack of cables and connections keep the safety cars charged and ready to respond at all times.
“The BMW i8 and i3 models are fantastic, both in terms of performance and ground-breaking design,” said Marketing Director of Formula E Jaume Sallares. “With the wireless electrical vehicle charging technology from Qualcomm, it means they can be rapidly deployed, without unplugging, ensuring they get out on track attending to incidents without delay.”
To further promote its wireless charging tech, Qualcomm recently released a video of the i8 safety car shredding its tires on a racetrack
Qualcomm’s engineers struggle to describe their Halo EV charging system as Formula E pilot Nelson Piquet Jr. rips the hybrid around the asphalt. The i8 sounds surprisingly mean, but outside of some light bars, a roll cage, and a new set of decals, it’s essentially stock.
Qualcomm inventor Pat Kusbel, moments after having his neck kinked by one of Piquet’s wide drifts, sums up his thoughts on the i8 succinctly with adolescent joy.
“That was cool,” he says.