Fuel station of the future, at your garage

2016-03-24 06:00
A new study envisages smart streets on which the cars, houses and grid are all connected. PHOTO: supplied

A new study envisages smart streets on which the cars, houses and grid are all connected. PHOTO: supplied

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LAST year, Nissan and Foster + Partners announced a joint brain trust to consider the fuel station of the future. A vision has now been unveiled in which the fuel station of the future is conceived as the home, the street, the city and indeed the car itself, but not, ironically, as a fuel station.

Nissan and Foster + Partners’ “fully connected vision of the future of mobility” is based on the belief that the future of vehicles is electric.

It sees vehicle-to-grid, battery storage, wireless charging, autonomous drive and over-the-air connectivity technologies combining to change not only how cars are refuelled, but how energy is used and distributed across major cities.

The move towards electric vehicles (EVs) is already creating a need for a new refuelling network. Such a network, said co-head of design at Foster + Partners, David Nelson, can be sustainable, innovative and can do more than simply refuel cars.

“Integrating zero emission technologies into the built environment is vital in creating smarter, more sustainable cities,” said Nelson. “That commitment must extend far beyond the car — it must sit at the heart of everything we do.”

The results of the 12-month collaboration envisage smart streets on which the cars, houses, road and grid are all connected. Cars are charged using renewable energy from people’s homes or using technologies that are being developed now where cars autonomously navigate to wireless on-street charging bays, charge themselves and then re-park while their owners sleep.

The vehicle is itself seen as a power hub, able to feed energy back into houses, the grid, other vehicles or devices. This use of cars for energy storage, coupled with energy storage capabilities installed in homes, would help to minimise the amount of renewable energy that goes to waste.

Nissan and Foster + Partners also posit that the move towards zero-emissions technology in cars could change what is possible in how we use them. The firms suggest, outlandishly but by way of example, that cars could be driven into offices and used as power sources, or simply that such newly feasible proximity would allow for automated parking systems within offices to whisk cars away to be stored and charged upstairs or elsewhere in a building until the end of the day.

Taking their vision further, the firms see a world in which distributed clean energy production is so abundant that it becomes a free commodity shared across cities, with fuel stations and many car parks able to be replaced with green spaces.

Nissan and Foster + Partners’ vision is being displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. - Supplied.

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