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LED Streetlamps in London Facilitates EV Charging

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【Summary】Unleashed by Ubitricity, a charging dongle that hooks up to any compatible streetlamp could make EV charging hassle-free and more available.

Michael Cheng    Jun 26, 2017 6:01 AM PT
LED Streetlamps in London Facilitates EV Charging

Depending on where you live in the world, EV charging can either be extremely convenient or incredibly frustrating. At the moment, cars are forced to crowd around public designated charging stations to power their cars.

It's no secret that a major deciding factor in Tesla's mega plan to install charging hubs around the country includes the number of EV owners in a specific location. For EV owners who don't live in an area with accessible charging infrastructure, there is now a unique solution to re-energizing batteries in a parked state. Unleashed by Ubitricity, a charging dongle that hooks up to any compatible streetlamp could make EV charging hassle-free and more available.

Energy-efficient Charging

The startup's device, called SimpleSocket, is currently being used in West London, after the city converted its existing lamp posts to LEDs. The conversion resulted in a decrease of energy consumption by 30 percent. Furthermore, LEDs provide extended lifespans of up to 50,000+ hours, compared to traditional lighting technologies, such as incandescent, fluorescent and metal halide. The modern lighting systems have allowed city officials to offer electricity to EV owners in the area.

But instead of investing in the costly installation of charging stations, which also take up a lot of space, the city started using SimpleSockets. Like a giant adapter, the device not only facilitates charging, but also handles billing – via a handheld panel that provides information about the session. This component serves as a smart electricity meter, relaying information to the company's server to activate charging and monitor usage data.

To start using one of the EV charging dongles, individuals must first sign up for the service, create an account online and order the unit.

Other EV Charging Solutions

Ubitricity's devices make charging readily available, but not seamless. Individuals are still forced to carry a bulky smartphone-like charger in their car. Additionally, this doesn't solve the lengthy waiting period one must succumb to when powering up their batteries.

These obstacles were recently addressed during a project conducted by Stanford University researchers. Like Qualcomm's fast-charging plates that were demoed at a test track in France, the group created a new way to charge EVs wirelessly, using magnetic resonance coupling. With the right angle placement and frequency, scientists were able to streamline the charging process (making it more efficient).

"Adding the amplifier and resistor allows power to be very efficiently transferred across most of the three-foot range and despite the changing orientation of the receiving coil," said lead study author and graduate student Sid Assawaworrarit, in a statement. "This eliminates the need for automatic and continuous tuning of any aspect of the circuits."

Other solutions require tight, universal partnerships with battery makers and EV car manufacturers. The concept of battery swapping was previously explored in 2015. This would've been feasible, but several automakers did not want to give away their battery technology to other businesses. Even Tesla considered battery swapping to be a good idea at one point, as seen in a 2014 patent called "Battery Swapping System and Techniques."

"Tesla could be looking to have a more important presence in commercial fleets and battery swap makes more sense when it's important that your vehicles stay on the road," said Fred Lambert from Electrek.

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