If Herbert Hoover’s historical promise of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” were updated to meet contemporary expectations, the new version might end with “and a car charger on every street”. Ubtiricity’s SimpleSocket is trying to make that a reality by repurposing street light poles into EV charging infrastructure.
SimpleSocket enables any street light to be converted into an electric vehicle charging station. Designed to fit most existing light poles, the device’s socket fixture allows the poles to perform double service as both street light and EV charging station. What makes Ubitricity’s vision for an open network of street light chargers possible is that their cable is the metering device instead of the charging station.
“Including the electricity meter in the charging cable instead of the charging spot turns the tables and enables completely new business models,” explains Ubitricity co-founder Knut Hechtfischer. “Utilities can offer their customers a completely new product – mobile electricity for mobile consumers.”
London’s Hounslow council was one of the first adopters of repurposing street light poles into EV charging infrastructure, essentially turning a street light pole into a multi-functioning piece of infrastructure. Electric vehicle owners in Hounslow can make a request with the council and SimpleSockets will be installed in street light poles near the EV owner’s home. With an Ubitricity cable, the driver can charge their car from any converted street light and the electricity usage will be metered and billed to them individually.
“For EV drivers, our MobileCharging system offers various advantages,” says co-founder Frank Pawlitschek. “They choose a contract with an electricity provider of their choice and charge everywhere with this same contract. At the end of the month, they only receive one single bill – no matter when and where they were charging.”
SimpleSocket and Ubricity’s related technologies are set to transform more than just EV charging infrastructure and charging norms. Designed to enable any urban structure containing a power source to become a multi-purposing piece of infrastructure, the day when BYOC* becomes a common urban acronym is close.
*Bring Your Own Charger
The project is just one of dozens featured in the Reprogramming the City book. Get your copy now!