Electric car chargers pop up from the sidewalk, to be tested in the UK


United Kingdom startup Trojan Energy will test charging stations that pop up from the sidewalk when needed.

The Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways (STEP) will pilot program will see 200 curbside charging stations installed in the London boroughs of Brent and Camden. The project will receive 3 million pounds ($3.9 million at current exchange rates) in co-founding from Innovate UK.

Each cylindrical charging station slots into the ground, with a “lance” that drivers insert to start charging, according to Trojan Energy. Stations can charge at 2 kilowatts to 22 kilowatts, and up to 18 stations can run simultaneously off a single electricity source, according to the company.

Trojan Energy also claims its charging stations are vehicle-to-grid ready, meaning they could allow cars to discharge power back into the grid. However, this would seem to also require bi-directional charging capability built into the car.

Trojan Energy pop-up charging station

Trojan Energy pop-up charging station

These charging stations come from an unlikely source. Trojan was founded by “a team of ex-oil industry engineers determined to use their subsea skills for good, and contribute towards solving the problem of high CO2 emissions,” according to the consultancy Element Energy, which helps manage their implementation.

It may have the most interesting backstory, but Trojan is far from the only startup developing charging stations that blend into the urban landscape.

A different design, from UK firm Urban Electric, was deemed a success after a trial ending earlier this year.

Other recent solutions have considered street-lamp posts and cable boxes. The common goal of these setups is to free up space on crowded streets and reduce visual clutter.



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