Product design company Duku, and IP firm, Albright IP, have developed ‘a world’s first’ pop-up EV charge point in collaboration with Urban Electric, which is currently being used on a trial basis on a street in Oxford, UK.
“Without access to charging points the electric car revolution could by-pass millions of people, particularly in the inner cities. If you can solve this problem, then you open up a huge market opportunity to increase the uptake of EVs in every single town and city,” explained Andrew Aylesbury, Director, Duku.
With six prototype charge points now installed as part of the project’s pilot stage, Duku has already overcome many of the design challenges which come with a pop-up system.
“Minimizing the depth below the ground is one of the big challenges. At the same time, it needs to rise up to a certain level to make it accessible for everyone,” explained Alex Lee, Director, Duku
With the IP secured and protected by sister company Albright IP, the prototypes have been developed using 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design), detailed mechanical design and a range of rapid prototyping techniques including 3D printing and CNC machining.
A range of sensors to detect obstacles ensure a safe design that eliminates the chance of the charge point coming into contact with anything, such as a parked car. Safety cut-offs guarantee the charge point will not power up until it detects that a car is connected.
Once retracted into the ground, the charge points sit completely flush with the pavement, preventing any trip hazards They are only visible by a ring of light which highlights their position and lets users know of their availability.
The trial will take place over the next six months. Once complete, the pilot will allow Duku to verify the reliability of the prototype and investigate how it performed. Duku will then review the findings and incorporate improvements within the next development phase which will involve a larger scale roll out as well as introducing an app-based user interface.
The project has been made possible thanks to £474,000 of funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, and administered by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
The project has been delivered in partnership with Duku, Urban Electric Networks Ltd and Oxford City Council, who have supported the pilot in response to their proposal to create the world's first Zero Emissions Zone in 2020.
It\'s a nice idea but I\'m assuming the designers are aware that it rains (occasionally) in the UK?! Keeping everything water*proof* whilst stowed below ground level will be a *real* challenge. Keeping water out of EV plugs and associated equipment is hard enough 4 feet off the ground...!