Telecommunications

Totem poles bring solar power, comms and lighting to city streets

Totem poles bring solar power,...
The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017
The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017
View 5 Images
The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017
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The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017
The Totem looks similar to some existing street lights, but offers much more than improved visibility at night
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The Totem looks similar to some existing street lights, but offers much more than improved visibility at night
The Totem has a long pole that fans out into a tilted, circular set of petals at the top
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The Totem has a long pole that fans out into a tilted, circular set of petals at the top
The Totem is designed for use as street lighting, at schools, on corporate campuses and in retail settings
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The Totem is designed for use as street lighting, at schools, on corporate campuses and in retail settings
Solar panels and lighting are set into the petals of  the Totem, while communications modules, batteries and EV charging equipment is housed in its pole
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Solar panels and lighting are set into the petals of  the Totem, while communications modules, batteries and EV charging equipment is housed in its pole
View gallery - 5 images

As cities look for ways to source renewable energy, cleanly charge electric vehicles and provide fast, ubiquitous communication networks, New York-based startup Totem has developed something called the Totem to deliver all three. What's more, it looks pretty good too.

The Totem will combine solar panels with accompanying energy storage, Wi-Fi and 4G modules, EV charging and smart lighting, depending on what the customer requires. It is designed for use as street lighting, at schools, on corporate campuses and in retail settings. While it doesn't look entirely unlike some existing streetlights, there is an elegance about the design, with a long pole that fans out into a tilted, circular set of petals at the top.

Integrated into the top of the petals will be a 5 kW solar panel array. In addition to powering the various features of the Totem, the load of which will vary depending on the configuration and deployment, they will be able feed surplus power back into the grid. This is aimed in part at helping to distribute energy generation in cities. The Totem can draw energy from the grid too, if required.

Surplus energy will also be stored in batteries that are housed in the pole. These will have a capacity of 50 kWh and will ensure that the Totems will continue to work even if there is a grid failure.

The Totem looks similar to some existing street lights, but offers much more than improved visibility at night
The Totem looks similar to some existing street lights, but offers much more than improved visibility at night

The pole will house 4G and Wi-Fi modules, too. These network services will be provided by third parties and Totem isn't disclosing whether it expects them to be free or paid for services at the moment.

The first version will reportedly be able to charge two EVs at a time, although the company won't currently disclose what charger types will be supported. Elsewhere, there will be LED smart lighting set into the underside of the petals, which will use ambient light sensors to trigger the lighting when required.

The first Totem is due for release in the middle of 2017.

The video below provides a look at the Totem.

Source: Totem


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View gallery - 5 images
2 comments
ljaques
They're probably only going to cost a few hundred thou apiece, too. Nice thought, but is it truly feasible? Judging by the picture, the top is maybe 8' in diameter. The solar probably couldn't keep up with both lighting at night and car charging during the day (and possibly at night, too), so how could they keep the batteries from running down after maybe a week of constant use?
Marty Williams
I'm sure the light is LED, so the solar panel should be able to power the light and the communications. There's no way that could juice up an electric vehicle and still have anything left over, though. They'll have to have the "optional" mains power if they want to power up cars.