Technologies such as IoT and AI have opened up new avenues for automotive design engineers developing EVs. Here are some highly useful pointers for that will help them take their creations to the next level
Approximately 60-70 per cent of vehicles in India are 2-wheelers that are running on petrol and contributing up to 30 per cent of carbon emissions on road. The wide adoption of EVs in 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler and even 4-wheelers and buses can help bring down that number.
At the recently held India Technology Week, the online panel discussion titled ”Latest Tech For Designing EVs and EV Ecosystem’ consisted of tech experts such as Anish Sharma, IoT, EV and Charging Infra Architect, Yulu Bikes; Sreeram Mohan, Director, Embedded Development – Altair; Sujit Yardi, Chief Engineer, Devise Electronics and R Balamurugan, CEO, Pulsars, and moderated by Devender Reddy, Founder & CEO, Eride E-mobility.
Here’s an in-depth look on the mentioned key points.
The focus of the discourse was based on the following questions:
- Li-Ion batteries offer the flexibility of charging at home giving. So how safe and reliable is to charge at home compared to charging a smartphone or a laptop?
- How can virtual simulation help R&D engineers to develop better EV products at the beginning of the design process?
- What are the hindrances regarding Battery Management System (BMS)?
- What is the role of telematics in facilitating increased productivity?
As discussed, some of the challenges are:
- Safety of the user is a big issue while deploying charging stations/ chargers at home. Systems aren’t reliable enough for consumers to not face any issues.
- EVs have been generally used for short-distance travel rather than long-distance travel.
- No communication standard for the vehicle to tell the charger about the current charging conditions. With multiple battery vendors and technologies, it becomes confusing to determine whether a particular charger will be suitable or not.
- At the moment, the market is filled with charging products that are not designed for diverse Indian voltage conditions. There is different electricity usage for rural and urban areas.
- Lack of charging optimisations during deployment and compliant standards.
- Having charging stations near every building location adds load to the grid. That amount of power has to be factored in while constructing any new infrastructure/building.
- While designing an EV, components are retrofitted to create a new vehicle.
- Doubts regarding the validation of simulation results for 2-wheelers.
- Issues in controller design (as the person developing the controller is strong in software and electronics whereas a machine development needs mechanical expertise).
- Difficulties concerning effective communication between motor experts and electronics designer. Combination of controller and motor is critical for successful vehicle design.
- Smart BMS systems don’t have CAN interfaces in them for obtaining the necessary data.
- Lack of support for the 4-wheeler EV ecosystem and strong domestic demand in India.
And some possible solutions/factors to be considered are:
- Short circuit, overvoltage and undercurrent, ground faults and related failures should be detected by the charging system, notified to the user and recovered.
- To achieve that, safety features for EV charging should be implemented in charging stations/ chargers that are greater than 1KV.
- To ensure reliability, data analysis of all the occurring electrical faults should be done to gauge system performance and preventive measures need to be taken.
- For the EV market to evolve, EVs need to be used for long-distance travel for which fast outdoor charging stations are required.
- Implement a communication protocol so that the vehicle can inform the charger about the specific charging requirements.
- Several simulation-driven designs should happen, that is simulating and understanding different scenarios from a logistics perspective.
- Good simulation tools can help in battery testing under any environmental conditions and thus bring down cost and effort.
- Most of the Digital Virtual Productisation (DVP) can be done in simulation, eliminating the need for an outdoor test track. Test results safely obtained from a crash test can also be safely analysed.
“Close to 60 – 70 per cent of tests that used to be done conventionally on a physical track can be done today in a simulation (software). And the simulation results are accepted and approved for undergoing certifications,” said Sreeram Mohan.
- During EV design, focus on building the core of the EV consisting of motor drives that can manage power efficiently.
- By integrating the CAN interface, all the charging data can be communicated through the BMS to the charging station to the VCU, giving lower cut-off voltage and overvoltage protection.
“You need to have control over the VCU to provide it certain instructions such as control over the torque, speed, gear levels and such. For that, you need to have the necessary port to communicate with the telematics unit that has IoT in it. Following the standards and implementing them is very necessary (such as J1939), leading to overall development cut down,” said Anish Sharma.
Sreeram Mohan added, “You could have a working motor drive if you have the right tools, starting from sensor control to sensorless control. You can also simulate battery packs, both from electrical and thermal perspectives and do power management. Such easy to configure tools can help you design a complete BMS.”
- For motors, rare-earth metal magnets (neodymium magnets) can be used for having a good lightweight motor. However, since they are expensive, general-purpose magnets can be used instead which are heavy and less expensive. So a compromise needs to be made between performance and price.
- Telematics can help manage your fleet. A service provider with relevant data can analyse and inform the fleet operator or the user regarding efficient vehicle performance and overall usage.
- By deploying multiple sensors, IoT provides a sense of terrain and user interaction. Predictive analysis (through the integration of AI with the incoming data) can give an improved insight into decision making with regards to fleet management.
“Telematics and IoT go hand in hand. So we need to track the asset as well as see the performance of the vehicle based on the number of usages,” said Sujit Yardi.
“It cannot be denied that telematics is going to help improve the utility of the vehicle by a very large extent, particularly from a commercial vehicle perspective,” said Balamurugan R.
- To match the strengths of global EV players, the Indian market for EVs needs to mature.
It is also to be mentioned here that Governments of Delhi and Telangana have passed EV policies in their respective states, which is going to benefit entrepreneurs willing to strengthen the EV ecosystem. And to do so, the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is helping governments implement standards in accordance with Indian road conditions and usage.