German company Ubitricity has developed a convenient way to charge electric vehicles with a minimal amount of fuss. Ubitricity turns existing city street lamps into charging stations by simply installing a socket (called the SimpleSocket). When used together with the SmartCable and plugged into an electric vehicle, the setup allows for immediate charging—and billing.
Billing happens by way of a box that is attached to the cable. That box is, essentially, a souped up mobile phone that acts as a built-in electricity meter. It communicates with Ubitricity to activate charging from the light pole then transmits the usage data back to the server.
Hounslow, a borough in west London, recently converted all of its lamp posts to LED lights, which require less energy. This in turn freed up electricity to be used for other purposes, including for charging electric vehicles.
As a result, the Hounslow Council has begun to roll out the SimpleSockets on a few of the neighborhood’s lamp posts. In order to take advantage of these new charging stations, electric car drivers simply order a SmartCable from Ubitricity, sign up for an account, and plug in.
The simplicity of the Ubitricity socket allows for municipalities to offer charging stations without having to do invasive infrastructure work like digging up the sidewalk or installing unsightly, standalone charging bays. This setup also allows drivers with the SmartCable and built-in meter to plug in anywhere there is a socket—without having to worry about “stealing” power from someone else. As an added benefit, drivers—and the towns that install the ports—also save money.
For more information, have a look at the video below.