With Curb Connect, a system patented by Ridek founder Dr Gordon Dower, there are no heavy cables to carry and plug in. Recharging an electric vehicle occurs automatically when the vehicle is driven up to a curb equipped with charging contacts (see diagrams at right).
On city streets, diagonal parking would permit cars to be parked with their front wheels against the curb. The curb would be raised into a low wall a few inches high, substantial enough not to be damaged by the wheels coming to rest against it. Sealed flush into the top of the wall there would be two bronze charging contacts facing obliquely upward. To the pedestrian, these would be inconspicuous and harmless for they would only become energized when there was a car in the stall, and its front end would overlap them, rendering them inaccessible.
The corresponding contacts on the car would be located between the front axle and the front end of the car and always concealed from view. They could be of carbon, like those on electric trolley buses, and face obliquely downward to make appropriate contact with a self-cleaning action. They would also be inactive unless in communication with the bronze contacts in the curb.
To allow for variation in the heights of the contacts in the car and in the curb wall, those in the car would be sprung to make them self-adjusting. Lateral accuracy of docking would not be a problem if the curb contacts were wider than those on the car, allowing for some variation from side to side in the parking stall.
This would be entirely safe, because wiring to the curb connection would be underground, and the electrical contacts in the curb would only be energized following an exchange of harmless low-level signals between the vehicle and the curb. These signals would be used to confirm that the vehicle was suitably equipped and authorized. The exchange of codes would include billing information. The soundness of the connections and wiring both in the ground and in the vehicle would be checked before the contacts became "hot".
Ideally, the battery in every parked electric car would contribute to a vast energy storage system available to tide the grid over periods of peak demand.
Various possibilities exist for paying for the recharging energy. The simplest might be to have a sealed meter in the vehicle keep account, thereby saving the installation of such equipment in the charging stalls. The charging could well use a V2G system where energy returned from the cars’ batteries to the electricity grid would smooth excessive demand.
If a great number of parked cars were included in the system, the total buffer storage available to the utility company would be substantial. Utility companies are willing to pay for this. From the record of such two-way exchanges correct billing and discounts could be applied.