INESC TEC simplifies electric vehicle charging
Imagine that you have an electric vehicle (EV) and that you want to go on a long trip. Because uncertainty is higher due to the lower autonomy of the car batteries, it is useful for the users to know when and where they can charge their batteries.
Project MOBILES reaches conclusion with positive results
In February, INESC TEC concluded an innovative project where the aim was to develop a set of systems that make it possible to support EV mobility. MOBILES – Sustained Electric Mobility is the name of the project which will help EV users find the most suitable locations to change or charge batteries.
Access information from your Smartphone
With the tools developed as part of the MOBILES project, EV users now have access to the information that they need to charge their car batteries. For that, they simply need to use a Smartphone. The most visible component of this project is the Android application for Smartphone, led by INESC TEC, which informs drivers, in real time, on the nearest location to change or charge EV batteries. With this tool, drivers can plan trips which are longer than the actual autonomy of the vehicle, as well as import and syncronise itineraries between the Smartphone and the user’s account in the main server. At the same time, it is also possible to get information (in real time) on the nearest free charging stations according to the user’s preferences or even compare prices.
The objective is simple: to make it easier for EV drivers to overcome obstacles to electric mobility, such as the batteries’ low autonomy and the inexistence of a broader network of electric charging stations. However, the Android application is just one of the components of project MOBILES, which also includes a Web platform and navigation software from NDrive.
MOBILES is innovative because it considers the perspectives of all parties involved in the process – the EV user, the charging station manager and the vehicle manufacturer. While the EV users can easily find suitable locations to change or charge the car battery, consequently achieving a higher mobility, the charging station manager/virtual operator can increase the number of clients and thus optimize the installed resources and also the use of energy. Finally, the manufacturer can benefit from a broader use of EVs, which in its turn contributes to higher levels of mobility and autonomy, and to lower levels of pollution.
A project with diverse know-how
The project, which started in September 2009 and was concluded in February 2012, was developed INESC TEC in an innovative and complementary partnership which also included NDrive Navigation Systems, the project promoter, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), the Innovation Centre INTELI - Inteligência em Inovação and CEIIA – Centro para a Excelência e Inovação na Indústria Automóvel (the Centre for Excellence and Innovation in the Automotive Industry).
At INESC TEC, the project benefited from the know-how of four Units – the Information and Computer Graphics Systems Unit (USIG), the Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit (UTM), the Optoelectronics and Electronic Systems Unit (UOSE) and the Innovation and Technology Transfer Unit (UITT). Therefore, the knowlege components in this project were diverse. The MOBILES was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), by the National Strategic Reference Framework, by the COMPETE Programme and by the Agência de Inovação.
Targeting an emerging market, MOBILES is a project that presented considerable challenges to the Consortium. The project presents a system which is based on the management of information on the vehicle’s energy and events. All this takes place in a communication network which makes it possible for the EV and the infrastructure/charging station to share information based on the knowledge of the vehicle’s relative position to the nearest charging points, supported by a system that combines all the information.
New skills, new challenges
By participating in this project, all partners in the consortium managed to develop new skills and knowledge which have contributed and will continue to increase competitiveness in new products and services in this area. From an industrial point of view, the MOBILES illustrates a new reality for the automotive industry where on one hand we have an increasing integration between the traditional industry chain and the information systems and, on the other, we have the reality of the vehicle completely connected and integrated with the power systems.
Due to its challenges and high levels of innovation, the project had a significant impact on the consortium partners and the results achieved opened a vast range of perspectives for the future. Following the relationship which is now strengthened as a result of this project, the partners are now planning to explore the results and knowledge made possible by this project and to integrate them in a set a upcoming projects.
In the case of INESC TEC – the entity that led the development of the mobile application for the Android platform, which closely interacts with the NDrive navigation software and with the central database –, the intention is to use these results and know-how in joint projects, namely in the transportation and mobility areas, of which REIVE and SITMe are examples.