The future of mobility is imminent. It will take the form of Alternate Fuel Vehicles, for instance, Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Fuel Cell Vehicles. While EV adoption rates are currently low, it’s estimated that by 2030, worldwide EV sales will reach 30 million.
Such statistics are driven as much by exogenous factors – climate change, stringent global CO2 regulations, fast-depleting fossil fuels, and shifting demand for more sustainable products – as by innovations in Battery and Charging Technologies, integration of Power Electronics, along with the emergence of Data Analytics. Here’s how.
Fig. 1: Four pillars for future of electrification
Figure 1 above depicts major technology trends indicating a possible increase in adoption:
But this is easier said than done unless technologies are leveraged optimally as below:
Enhance range estimation (AI/ML-based): While EV registrations had grown 43% y- o-y in 2020, range anxiety and high charging time have proved as dampeners. Seeing how lithium-ion batteries in EVs charge slowly, many charging methods are employed to zero in on options. Predictive analytics and data intelligence enable to improve the performance of battery packs by predicting battery life, identifying potential degradation/breakdown and their causes and, fixing delays/errors even before they arise. Such intelligent gathering and monitoring of extensive data on battery life, performance, state-of-charge, temperature, number of charge cycles, etc., stored on the cloud drive innovation.
Enable cloud-based predictive analytics: Electrification-driven transport highlights why an efficient BMS which ensures maximum performance, safe operation, and an optimal life span under diverse charge conditions is required. Accurate and precise SoC/SoH estimations help evaluate the reliability of the battery while providing critical information, remaining energy, and Remaining Useful Time (RUL). AI-enabled predictions are more accurate, and the benefits are automatically incorporated in the decision-making.
Millions of lines of code will power vehicles of the future. Complex components derived from multiple players — OEMs, Tier1s, Tier2s, software stack suppliers, and Semicon chip providers – will drive the Battery Management System, Traction inverter motor control, charger, and the VCU. Integrating and validating them before SoP will become more crucial as challenges, such as having the optimal architecture, multi-core optimization, hardware- software compatibility, compliance to AUTOSAR, and functional safety (ISO26262), come to the fore.
A rethink towards an integrated design is required.
Fig. 2: Trends towards integrated power electronics ‘one-box’ based on KPIT experience
Figure 2 above illustrates how different industry players are exploring possibilities for integrating the power electronics within the EV components to improve the overall energy efficiency and reduce BOM cost and supplier interfaces. The Hybrid and EV powertrains house the battery, DC/DC converters, onboard charger, and traction inverter in separate enclosures. Advances in analog and embedded computing technologies will enable designers to integrate all these using one domain controller and power stage to enhance efficiency and reliability while reducing costs yet meeting functional safety standards.
Such integration will also involve deep-diving into the design to eliminate excess packaging material while making some hardware redundant and lowering the weight and volume of the system. This will ensure EVs stay super-efficient over long distances on a full electric charge. These are placed into the already optimized space to manage higher power density. Apart from the advantages cited an integrated powertrain architecture with fewer parts that can break also resolves the critical issue of safety on the road and offers a more reliable alternative.
Factors favoring integrated one-box control unit
Focus on centralized architecture: Even as new vehicle architecture emerges to ensure the complexity of future-ready transportation stays manageable, there is a clear shift from the current domain-specific E/E architecture toward cross-domain, centralized E/E architectures. This would eliminate individual control units and uses Zone ECUs to connect vehicle computers to the embedded control units and sensors and actuators. Such a design eases system complexity, costs, and ups security. Centralization of data streams enables the zonal ECUs to transmit faster, more securely, and efficiently to the connected vehicle computers and the cloud.
Ensure adoption of multi-core architecture with efficient core partitioning: Embedded system performance is a crucial challenge for EV components, e.g., motor needs to run at 15KHZ frequency with ASIL D compliant software, use of multiple cores efficiently to achieve functional safety compliance and performance target is essential. In addition, integration of multiple EV components into one single ECU will increase performance challenges; scheduling the tasks on multiple cores needs careful analysis, system thinking, and understanding.
Increased savings and efficiencies with integrated power electronics through:
Update-able architecture with OTA: To enable EVs to be update-able with new functions when they’re on the road necessitates that a particular buffer of computing power is designed into the in-vehicle server. Updateable over-the-air (OTA) is helpful. One of the in-vehicle servers in the car will act as a central gateway to all incoming and outgoing data and cater to security via the intrusion detection and verification of software certificates features. Transmitting and installing software patches and security updates in a safe and coordinated manner while providing software services to functions in the car is possible.
In developing the vehicles of tomorrow, the automotive industry will face several challenges. One way to translate these into opportunities is to harness the power of Analytics to gain a significant competitive edge. The ability — to use the data to drive sales and retain customers, apply statistical models, and determine market spends, focus on the chinks, and take timely countermeasures and forecast efficiency, operations, and performance – can only drive profitability, enhance market share, and reduce risk. In this context, EV analytics and data management platforms are coming to the fore today.
KPIT has built an intelligent integrated EV analytics and data management platform with features that enable EV manufacturers to improve the consumer experience.
Leveraging the data analytics platform to estimate RUL for batteries
A considerable advantage of optimizing data analytics capabilities lies in accurately estimating the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) for batteries. Estimating the State of Charge and the State of Health of the battery offers excellent insight into the status of battery health and energy. KPIT has developed a hybrid approach intelligently combining a physics-based cell model with data-driven machine learning to predict the SOC accurately. The SOC determined is then used for accurate SOH prediction and further extended to predict the Remaining Useful Life of the battery. It has also been successfully combined with a supervised learning neural network to predict the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) of the battery as a measure of cycles, thereby augmenting prognostics capability.
Fig. 3: Determining RUL of a battery using AI/ML
The electric mobility dream is hugely dependent on the availability of ample charging infrastructure. Vehicle manufacturers and suppliers must ensure that the future EVs will be compliant with various global/regional charging standards, e.g., ISO/IEC 15118, GB/T 27930 and CHAdeMO etc. Consumers expect easy-to-use apps and notifications about EV range, availability of nearest charging station, hassle-free payments, and dashboard of the health of their vehicle. A holistic approach towards charging is needed, considering all the vehicle’s technical parameters like EVCC stack, communication gateway, robust charging control ECU. The approach should factor in the interactions of the vehicle/charger with the outside world to locate the nearest charging station, predictive maintenance, SOTA/FOTA, and others. KPIT offers a full suite of EVCC solutions, including ready-to-use software stacks, accelerators, integration, comprehensive testing suite, cyber security, asset management, and predictive maintenance platform.
Fig. 4: Holistic approach for developing smart charging solutions
The future belongs to electric mobility is a given. How soon would that future arrive might surprise all of us and depends on how fast some of the technologies discussed above come into the mainstream. The automotive and mobility industry and the ecosystem must collaborate to realize a greener and cleaner future.
A software development and integration partner like KPIT, brings global expertise and ready-to-use software platforms and accelerators for electrification components like charger, inverter, BMS, and VCU. It helps OEMs and Tier1s reduce time to market by partnering for prototype to production addressing embedded system challenges.
Vice President & Business Leader,
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KPIT Technologies is a global partner to the automotive and Mobility ecosystem for making software-defined vehicles a reality. It is a leading independent software development and integration partner helping mobility leapfrog towards a clean, smart, and safe future. With 11000+ automobelievers across the globe specializing in embedded software, AI, and digital solutions, KPIT accelerates its clients’ implementation of next-generation technologies for the future mobility roadmap. With engineering centers in Europe, the USA, Japan, China, Thailand, and India, KPIT works with leaders in automotive and Mobility and is present where the ecosystem is transforming.
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