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Accessible charging design offers hope for disabled drivers looking to switch to electric vehicles.
Design agency Duku has launched the world’s leading fully accessible public electric vehicle charger with a range of features designed to remove obstacles for disabled drivers.
The new 7 to 22kW charger is designed with a patented, fully assisted power cord feed, operated by a button on the plug, and can be deployed with one hand.
Motorized reels provide only the required length of cable, eliminating the hassle of winding and unwinding.
There’s an easy-to-access user interface designed to meet guidance on how best to use graphics, information, and colours, and the charger offers contactless payments, so it doesn’t require a touchscreen, buttons, or mobile app to operate.
The device swivels 90 degrees, so you can rotate it out of direct sunlight or point the cable at your vehicle. The cables and equipment themselves are coloured to improve visibility and reduce exposure to visually impaired pedestrians.
Notably, the design has no vulnerable bodywork that needs to be protected from parking scuffs or crashes. This allows the charger to be installed on the street without obstacles for wheelchair users who can easily access the device. The secret is a crash mount with a self-righting post that protects the high-voltage cables inside.
The plastic shroud on the bottom of the post is designed to deform to absorb minor shocks, or to be replaced quickly and inexpensively after a strong shock.
Duku claims its “plug and play” system means a unit can be replaced with a pre-installed ground box in 10 minutes.
TV presenter, journalist and accessibility consultant Emily Yates is a wheelchair user and wheelchair user who recently participated in the Charger trial in Dundee. “I found it really free to drive,” she said. “Unfortunately, due to the lack of charging infrastructure currently available on the market, I do not yet own an electric vehicle. Reviewing Duku’s new charger design, it provided a fully accessible solution for my specific needs, This may change in the near future!”
Andrew Aylesbury, director of Duku, said: “The problems identified in the initial study were mainly the weight and difficulty of using the cable, and obstacles around the base. ‘Tethered’ chargers meant users didn’t need their own cables, then we challenged ourselves to fix the problem, connect the cables to the car and eliminate the need for bollards around the base.” He confirmed that the device will be developed for mass production, possibly as early as 2024.
The new chargers meet or exceed BSI Group’s draft guidance on a new voluntary accessibility standard, which has just entered the public consultation phase and will be published later this year.
Consultancy Urban Foresight worked closely with Duku on the eight-month charging station project, which was partly funded by Innovate UK, and project manager Clare Pennington said: “After the guidelines were released, it was important for companies to be proactive and consider what can be done now to ensure their charging points are accessible which is very important.”
The British Standards Institute (BSI) has launched a consultation on a new standard to ensure accessibility to public charging of electric vehicles.
BSI’s new draft standard for accessible charging of electric vehicles is open for comments until May 4, 2022.
As the UK’s national standards body, BSI seeks input from parties involved in the design, manufacture and installation of charging stations, as well as private landowners, local authorities, transport planners, consumer groups and energy suppliers.
The UK government’s pledge to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 will lead to an increase in the use of electric vehicles, requiring a new and significant network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
With an estimated 14 million disabled people in the UK and an estimated 2.7 million disabled drivers in 10 years, charging stations need to be fully designed to be accessible to all consumers. The new charging network should be aligned with government policies including inclusive transport.
As this appears to be the first standard of its kind internationally, BSi intends to develop requirements for accessible public charging of all plug-in vehicles for all potential users and pedestrians in order to create an inclusive charging environment for all persons with disabilities and Older adults and people with learning disabilities or neurodiversity disorders. The standard, called PAS 1899:2022: Electric Vehicles – Accessible Charging – Specification, focuses on achieving minimum accessibility standards for all public charging stations and environments where enhanced accessibility can be deployed.
The standard, which is sponsored by the charity Motability and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, intends to cover:
the physical aspects of the environment surrounding fixed charging units (e.g. kerb height, ground type)
the location, placement and spacing of such units within the streetscape and public realm and relative to other infrastructure and/or objects (e.g. placement of charging units relative to individual parking bays, adequate space surrounding the charging unit and vehicle)
factors to be taken account of in the design and specification of accessible chargepoints and their more immediate surrounding areas (e.g. height of chargepoint, cables and cable management systems, bollard spacing, interface tilt, lighting, colours used, accessibility of language within communications, weight and ease of use of the equipment)
information, signals, and indicators provided.
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