In August of 1888, the daring Bertha Benz took her two sons and drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim in a motor built by her husband, Carl Benz. This trip is recorded as the world’s first long-distance trip in an automobile. Bertha Benz wanted to prove that automobile had a future, and she was right. Today, we cannot imagine a world without cars. But what made the automobile a reality? Was it just the technical advancements made in the cars? No, it was a combination of technical enhancements in the car and the ecosystem developed around it that made automobiles ready for public use.
No innovation becomes a reality without an ecosystem constructed around it
Cars are useless without fuels. There were no petrol pumps when Bertha Benz took the first long-distance trip. She had to purchase petrol from chemists. Yes, the first gas station was a pharmacy in the town Wiesloch. Do you think automobile would be so ubiquitous if we were buying petrol from pharmacy? Absolutely not. Automobiles became feasible because we not only made the cars better but also developed a system for supply and distribution of petroleum.
Presently, the focus is on green technology and hence the innovation is being done on electric vehicles (EVs). All the major automotive companies are pushing their respective R&Ds to make better electric vehicles. However, the technical advancements made in electric vehicles will not only serve the purpose. Just as petrol supply chain is essential for the conventional vehicles, an effective charging system is required to propel the rise of electric vehicles.
What services should a smart ecosystem for electric vehicles provide?
An effective charging system requires the power grid, charging device and electric vehicle to operate in a coordinated manner. To this end, Smart Charging technique has been developed that helps in various charging aspects including:
- Placing and receiving charging requests
- Authenticating vehicle operators
- Identifying and locating charging stations
- Assessing charge requirement of electric vehicles
- Scheduling charging sessions
- Making payments
- Managing power grids
A smart charging can be visualized as shown below.
How does Smart Charging work and why is this a game changer?
Smart Charging is an intelligent system that connects electric vehicles, charging stations, and charging operators to enable data sharing. When an EV is plugged in for charging, the charging station sends data to a management platform hosted on cloud. The data that is transferred to the management platform could pertain to current state of charge, charging time, charge required, grid’s capacity, current demand, etc. The data is analyzed in real-time to define the process of EV charging. The real-time data analysis can manage your charging time, even find the best prices to charge your electric vehicle. You can save money and be even more sustainable as you will just charge what is needed for your EV. The smart charging technique is a game changer because it helps to construct a smart ecosystem around electric vehicles. It ties up the information about EVs, charging stations and the grids and make an optimum decision about charging of an EV. You will manage the supply and demand more efficient as you monitor, control, and restrict the use of charging stations. As the smart charging becomes better, it will resolve the issues of finding charging stations, managing load, making payments, etc. This smart service will be indispensable to manage the charging for increasing numbers of electric vehicles in use and comes even with benefits for the environment and is optimizing cost for users.
What are the technology benefits of Smart Charging?
Users can be authenticated by the means of RFID enabled through smartcards, key fobs, etc. US10833509 teaches identification and authentication of vehicle operators are done by RFID. The authentication means also pass along various details about vehicle operators such as blacklisted/whitelisted account, time of day restrictions, remaining charging sessions, and other operator information. Based on these details, the system authorizes the charging sessions.
Locating charging stations is another advantage of smart charging. The drivers can initiate a request to find charging stations based on their preferences which can include proximity to their present location or travel route, waiting time, cost, etc. The request is sent to a server along with state of charge (SOC) of the battery, expected charging time, battery type, etc. The algorithm determines the best possible charging stations based on the aforementioned information. One such example is GM’s patent pending application US20210213844.
Being connected to a network also helps in scheduling the charging sessions remotely. It helps in less waiting time at the charging stations as can be understood by Noodoe Corp’s pending applications US20210031648.
In Summary, Smart Charging not only helps in creating a seamless charging process but also helps in optimal power distribution. It serves the purpose of only charging what’s needed to become more sustainable as well as saving electricity. Some of the benefits of Smart Charging to EV drivers, charge point operators and EV grid operators are listed below.
Focus on Technology Development in the Smart Charging sector
Focus on technology development can be validated by rise in patents count. I did a quick search based on classes (IPC/CPC) that could be related to ‘Smart Charging’. If we just look at the patent families since 2018, the numbers are staggering.
Many companies are also actively working on developing Smart Charging Technologies.
Due to the increased focus on innovations in the Smart Charging space. Smart Charging techniques will continue to become better as it covers more data points and better data processing technique. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to keep pace with the enhancement in Smart Charging techniques to ensure being the early adopters of new developments so that they create the entire ecosystem and not just EVs. The technical enhancements could be on any aspects – combination of more data points, improved data processing or novel outcome. Smart Charging is at a confluence of multiple technology fields. Being abreast with technology development will help in not only driving the innovation through the R&D but also identifying the need for partnerships for technology co-creation. Evalueserve can help in the entire process of innovations, be it discovering new smart charging techniques, investigating, and prioritizing the techniques, thwarting competition, and enabling technology development.