A stretch of a prominent Germany highway just got a high-tech upgrade: overhead power lines — like the ones you only see over rail tracks — that can power hybrid trucks.
The German government announced that a 6.2 mile (10 km) stretch of the autobahn got the upgrade, a test that could pave the way for a new carbon neutral strategy to transport goods.
The system, first developed by German conglomerate Siemens in 2012, allows hybrid big rigs to charge their batteries while traveling at speeds of up to 56 mph (90 km/h). Built-in sensors can notify the truck when to switch back to a combustion engine if there are no overhead cables available.
Similar stretches of electric highways have been built in Sweden and the United States. Other solutions for charging electric vehicles while they drive include rails built into the asphalt.
Siemens is promising that the overhead lines can bring carbon emission reductions to other places where railways don’t make sense or aren’t possible to build.
Electrifying truck transportation could also save a ton of fuel: 20,000 euros worth for every truck traveling 62,000 miles (100,000 km), according to Siemens’ website.