While electric vehicles may hold a promise of a gasoline-free future, they are not without their drawbacks, including the need to schedule their battery recharging. A new smartphone application being developed by researchers at the University of Windsor could take much of the hassle out of that.
Not only does the app monitor the car’s battery charge, but it will search out charging stations and even work with your datebook to optimize your driving schedule.
“We wanted to take out some of the driver’s anxiety,” says Kemal Tepe, an associate professor and director of the university’s Wireless Communications and Information Processing Lab.
“We tell you how far you can go with this vehicle in the current state of the charge, but the uniqueness of the application is to match the charging schedule to your calendar.”
Using the driver’s appointments entered into the smartphone’s calendar, and with the battery charge information from the car, the app will map out the destinations, offering the most efficient routes or even suggesting rescheduling appointments around the car’s charging requirements.
“This application combines several applications and information and then processes it,” Tepe says.
“Let’s say you come to work and have an urgent meeting in the afternoon. You enter it into your schedule, which ties it into the smartphone, and the application will grab this information and tell you if it has enough charge to get there, or not enough.”
Tepe says the app could be optimized to the electrical grid to identify the least-expensive charging times. While it would prioritize lower-cost electricity, it would also monitor upcoming appointments and, if necessary, start when needed to have the battery charged by the time the driver has to leave.
The app could also reduce the number of times the car is plugged in.
“You have a limited number of charging cycles,” Tepe says, adding that it could be up to 2,000 times, “but every time you charge it, you are counting down.”
Even though you may stop for lunch next to a charging station, “the app will tell you that you can make one day’s trips on that charge, so you don’t need to waste one of those charging opportunities and it will tell you to skip the charge,” he says.