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Varsity has answer to EV 'range fear'

2014-10-22 10:50

NO MORE RANGE FEAR: New software could ensure accurate readings of your claimed electric-car range, such as the Nissan Leaf sold in SA (pictured here), to avoid unnecessary 'range anxiety'. Image: Nissan

RALEIGH, North Carolina - Researchers at North Carolina State University claim to have developed software that estimates how far an electric vehicle can go before its battery goes flat... and leaves you stranded.

The driver, the researchers say, enters a destination, the software automatically calculates vehicle range based on a host of variables to predict energy use, and away you go. Can it really be as simple as that...?

Habiballah Rahimi-Eichi, a post-doctoral researcher at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work, said: “Electric cars already have range-estimation software but we believe our approach is more accurate. Current technology estimates range based on average energy consumption of the previous eight or 24km."


He added: "By plugging in the destination, our software looks at traffic data, whether you’ll be on a highway or in a city, weather, road grade and other variables.

"This predictive, big-data approach is a significant step forward, reducing the range estimation error to a ffew kilometres. In some case studies, we were able to get 95% range accuracy.”

The software takes data related to the route from start to destination and uses "big data techniques to determine which pieces of information are important and extract key features that can be plugged into an algorithm to estimate how far the vehicle can go".

Two other variables are also used: the performance characteristics of the vehicle and its battery; and the charge remaining in the battery. The state of charge is estimated using a patented technique developed by Rahimi-Eichi and Mo-Yuen Chow, professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and a co-author of the paper, in 2012.


Chow said: “People have a lot of ‘range anxiety’ about EV's – they’re afraid they’ll get stuck at the side of the road. We hope new range-estimation software will make people more confident about using an electric vehicle.”

The paper, 'Big-Data Framework for Electric Vehicle Range Estimation', will be presented at the 40th annual conference of the Industrial Electronics Society scheduled for October 29 to November 1 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

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