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How is Big Data influencing electric vehicle development?

Posting in Energy

How can Big Data prevent an EV owner being stranded on the motorway?

From dashboard applications to battery charge rates, or location and acceleration levels, electric vehicles produce, store and collate massive amounts of data every minute.

If you have the right apps and a link to a mobile device, an owner can use this information and more -- finding out their tire pressure rates, condition of the battery and whether it needs a charge before making a long trip.

However, it's not only useful for the driver. In the same manner as smart meters, the vast amount of data produced by electric vehicles can also prove beneficial for engineers and developers of these models.

Mike Tinksey, Ford's associate director of global electric vehicle infrastructure said:

"We're learning a lot about how often people charge and whether they're doing it at locations other than their homes. That will really shape the next generation of our products."

Driving habits, the availability of charging systems and efficiency is all data that companies like Ford, IBM and utility companies can utilize in order to decide where to place charging areas, to manage power grid capacities and continue improving the vehicles on offer. With access to such constant streams of data, supporting the electric vehicle industry can be made easier. Clay Luthy, IBM's global distributed energy resource leader said:

"Big data is going to being to be a big issue for electric cars. One of the keys to electric vehicle success is ensuring the grid can support them, especially as vehicle counts grow, and that adopters have absolutely seamless user experience."

IBM is currently collaborating with Pacific Gas & Electric and Honda in order to coordinate the charging of their vehicles. Honda's Fit electric cars, due to be launched soon, will transmit data on battery charge rates to the cloud -- called the Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform -- and relate it to grid performance rates in the location of the vehicle.

Once the data is collected, the numbers are crunched by IBM who then sends information back to the Fit on the best places to charge, without overtaxing the power grid and keeping costs down for the consumer.

The Big Data software is also able to analyze charging patterns of electric vehicle owners in particular locations, and inform utility companies on how many are plugged in, and what the future trends are likely to be. By enabling this, utilities may be able to better manage the strain EVs place on local power grids.

What is known as 'range anxiety' is a real issue. In fear of becoming stranded, EV owners often plug into public stations to top-up their batteries -- and at peak times -- rather than find themselves out of juice on a motorway. By harnessing Big Data, potentially in the future enough charging stations can be installed to alleviate the concern, placing less stress on peak-time power grids and ensuring electric vehicle owners have the support they require.

(via: Forbes)

Image credit: Tesla

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure