Back in May, California-based Coulomb Technologies announced the "smartlet" public electric vehicle charging system. At this week's EDTA conference in Washington, DC, Coulomb has a working prototype on display (it was charging a converted Prius from Green Gears) and we got a step-by-step explanation of how the system will work.
Basically, each subscriber will have an RFID card that talks to the Smartlet. By holding the card, which will have a picture of a key on it, to the space on the charging station where the lock icon is, the system realizes who's plugging in their car and gets ready to charge it. By plugging in your cord and making the connection, a few things happen. First, the system notes that a connection has been made. If this connection is stopped before the owner returns with their card (either by an accident or vandalism), a text message or email is sent to the owner notifying them of the disruption. This will prevent someone else from coming up and stealing your juice by putting the cord into their own car. The plug door on the smartlet locks to prevent accidential disruption and accidents. This door only unlocks when you return with your card, at which time the charging stops and you're on your way. See what we mean in the gallery below.