Smartlet Charging stations an idea to recharge your plug-in hybrid vehicle

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) - Coulomb Technologies has come up with a technology that could deliver a vehicle recharging technology to municipalities and parking lot owners by the end of the year.

Now that we know that electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles – not just exotics such as the Tesla Roadsters – will be available on a more general basis in the 2010 timeframe, there are obvious questions about the way how you would recharge such a vehicle. Sure, at home, you have your power outlet and companies such as Fisker are even proposing solar-powered recharging stations for your garage. But what about when you drive to work? A 40 mile range of cars such as the Chevy Volt or an estimated 40 mile range of the electric motor of the upcoming Toyota just don’t cut it for many commuters. And we aren’t even talking about holiday travel.

It is clear that a new “refueling” infrastructure will be needed to support this new generation of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Coulomb Technologies is one of the first companies to come up with an idea how such an infrastructure could look like. The firm’s “ChargePoint Network” includes “Smartlet Charging Stations,” which are used for bi-directional energy metering and control, user authentication through 802.15.4 wireless personal area network technology. 802.15.4 was developed as a low-cost and low data rate network technology that has a range of about 30 feet and a bandwidth of currently 100 Kb/s.

The “Smartlet Communications Network” is described as “a high reliability meshed network using 802.15.4 technology and GSM/GRPS technology to communicate with the Network Operating System for user authentication, access control, energy flow control and energy metering.” If Coulomb Technologies has its way then you may plug-in your parked electric vehicle and charging fees will be monitored via a “subscription model”.    

Coulomb CEO claims that the technology is “a scalable, smart charging infrastructure that provides municipalities and parking lot owners a recurring income stream through public charging stations that are easy to install and maintain.”

“Our complete technology solution also provides electric utility companies a means to control the load that plug-in vehicles put on the grid and a means to compute and implement taxes on electricity as a transportation fuel,” he said.

Both the Smartlet Charging Stations and ChargePoint Network Operating System are expected to become available in the fourth quarter of this year.