News Article

First Of Its Kind Pop Up EV Charging Point Trialled On UK Street


With a third of UK car owners lacking access to off street
parking, the availability of EV charging points is an issue that could stall
the uptake of electric vehicles. One organisation in Cheltenham think they have
the answer! Product Design company Duku and sister IP firm, Albright IP have
now developed ‘a world's first' pop-up EV charge point in collaboration with
Urban Electric, which is currently being trialled in a street in Oxford.

“Without access to charging points the electric car
revolution could by-pass millions of people, particularly in the inner cities.
Ironically this demographic is also one of the most likely to use an electric
car, with short commutes into local towns or to train stations. 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.” Explains 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.

“The project came with a huge number of challenges, from
reducing visual ‘street clutter' to the shallow depth available below ground.
Cities such as Oxford have a lot of historical architecture and utilities under
the pavement.” Added Alex Lee, Director, Duku. “So, minimising 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, so we worked hard to miniaturise
its components while also creating a charge point that could rise up to 800mm
above ground level”

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.

In addition, a range of sensors to detect obstacles and
monitor the performance of the charge point ensure a safe, intelligent design
that eliminates the chance of the charge point coming into contact with
anything such as a parked car. Safety cut offs also ensure that the charge
point does 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, and are only visible by a
ring of light which highlights their position and lets users know of their

“It's certainly a complex system but overcoming challenges
is something the team at Albright IP and Duku are used to. Getting them in the
ground is a real milestone for the project and we're excited to see how they
operate.” Added Robert Games, Managing Director, Albright IP.

The trial will take place over the next six months and users
will be able to book an electric car which has been made available for the
period of the pilot.

Once complete, the pilot will allow Duku to verify the
reliability of the prototypes and investigate how it fared against daily use,
British weather and being installed on a typical UK street. 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.

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