With a team consisting of 30 software developers and a concept that goes back all the way to the year 2008, a small company from Budapest, Hungary plans to revolutionise the way how navigation technology can be used nowadays. To find out more, Rahul Chopra interacted with Tamas Nagy, CEO, GPSTuner at the Automotive World Expo 2020, Japan held earlier this year.
Q. What does your current solution promise to its end customers?
A. Our focus is on providing a very precise range calculation for electric mobility vehicles such as electric bikes and electric motor vehicles. With respect to this, we have extensive industrial experience.
Q. How does your solution benefit the customer? What is the final benefit they get as compared to other options that are already there?
A. Normally when you sit in an electric vehicle, the range calculation is around 7.5 per cent. Compared to that, our range calculation is only off by around 2 per cent or less, depending on how much time the learning algorithm takes everything into consideration. Also, the status of the car regarding tyre pressure and speed are considered, using which we come up with a very effective range calculation that can be utilised on the move. To achieve this, we often look at user behaviour from different situations.
Q. How does having an accurate range calculation matter to a customer?
A. It matters a lot. The fear of having an insufficient range to reach a location, also known as range anxiety, deters people from getting into an electric car because they are worried whether or not their battery will last for them to reach their destination.
If they are going on a longer trip, it’s very difficult to determine where to stop and for how long. By letting them know exactly how far they can travel consistently, we can put them at ease. And also because we know what their range is, we can create an optimised route that includes charging stations, which is very different from what other navigation companies do. Through our services, we will also try to optimise the travel time for you to get to your destination.
Q. How do you get the data about charging stations for different geographies?
A. There are some open sites through which information can be collected. There are other databases available as well, that we can purchase and obtain data from. We use the best-case scenario depending on our customer’s budget and what they would like to utilise.
Not only do we know about the locations of the charging stations, but also about their current status. As and when they are available, you just have to plug in and it’s yours for the duration of time you need to charge. That way you can really lock down your complete time.
Q. You mentioned that there is a huge difference between the accuracy of the standard solution versus yours. Can you share a little more detail about what all parameters your solution takes into?
A. Standard solutions give you 60 kilometres range but do not clarify about which direction. However, we take that into consideration and go a little bit further by accessing data such as tyre pressure. So, depending on the condition, that can make a few percentage points actually go up.
If we have access to information such as how many people are sitting in the car, the payload then makes a big difference. And then, we take into consideration dynamic information regarding the weather, such as which way the wind is blowing and what is the outside temperature. With a change in these conditions, user behaviour also changes. So, those data sets when available, allow us to make precise calculations.
Q. How do you get the payload information since that depends on the combined weight of the people sitting in and not of the vehicle?
A. First, we estimate the number of people who are wearing seat belts. From here, our learning algorithm takes over and performs precise calculations. So, we are able to quickly determine what the situation is going to be after a few kilometres. Even if we have no access to the information, we can soon predict what is going to happen and thus adapt to that.
Q. How do OEMs work with you? What is the scenario there?
A. We come from an electric bike segment, where calculating the range is difficult because of the user behaviour, battery and motor health status. But we are able to manage that. So, we bring this knowledge to the EVs and EVs can take advantage of our platform, either by doing a completely offline calculation using SDK or utilise our web-based services for calculation through an API. All of those are available for them to choose. Basically, the concept is we have our calculations, these calculations can be online, offline or server-based.
Q. If an OEM is interested, what is the process from here? How should they contact you and what are the details they should be looking at or sharing with you?
A. They can visit the website evnavigation.com from where users can know details about their car, select their SoC and other parameters. Soon, there will be a dongle available for end-users which will allow them to automatically get information from our website and check details about the whereabouts of their car, what their charge station is and how far they can travel. OEMs can contact us directly at [email protected].
Q. Can you share some details about the dongle that you are planning to come out with?
A. It will be a very simple OBD dongle which can connect with any electric vehicle and retrieve all information automatically. This connectivity adaptor will be manufactured throughout the electric bike segment and maybe electric scooter segment as well. This will provide a lot of convenience for us as we will be able to adapt very quickly to all the non-standard industrial protocols and also make other considerations for the particular workflow that we would like to have. We can certainly enhance this to make more things available, but to get things started, we will use a certified third-party tool.
Q. Any approximate price?
A. We are still weighing in on the approximate price, but it will include subscription and the dongle itself. We would like to bundle it so that the end-user will not have to worry about the subscription cost for a longer period of time. So, probably there will be a single price. Right now, we have whitepapers where we have calculated an average if somebody uses our routing and saves up to 9 per cent of fuel cost. That makes a huge difference and certainly, this will allow us to charge more, but we are looking to establish a lower customer base.
Q. Any enquiry or discussions from India?
A. Yes. We are in talks with large manufacturers from e-mobility. Being a software company, our behaviour tends to be quick with respect to work and we’re having heavy discussions with a lot of manufacturers.