Carnegie Mellon University

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September 26, 2018

Viswanathan and Team Pitch Electric Vehicle Charger Solution at Global Mobility Hackathon

By Amanda King and Lisa Kay Schweyer

Amanda King
  • Communications Analyst
  • 412-268-6741

On September 6, a team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers led by Venkat Viswanathan,  energy fellow at the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon, was a finalist in the MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’s Hackathon.

The hackathon provides a platform for participants to generate innovative ideas and solutions on issues concerning mobility in New Delhi. 30 teams from around the world were selected to present their ideas. 

The CMU team was specifically tasked with developing a model or software for mapping out charging points and battery swapping stations for electric vehicles (EVs) depending on factors such as traffic, most used routes, time taken, route-wise peak times and range anxiety, vehicle charging patterns, malls, parking areas and conventional fuel stations.

Their solution: Infrastructure Networks for Charging EVs through Physics-based Transient Systems, or INCEPTS. This model utilizes techniques from across a variety of disciplines to determine the best areas to place chargers.

“Combining the same smart routing as most robotic navigation systems with our vehicle dynamics model and traffic flow data, we were able to accurately simulate the depletion of a vehicle’s battery during operation and determine which of the possible charger locations it should visit,” said Mechanical Engineering PhD Candidate Matt Guttenberg, who works on the project alongside Mechanical Engineering PhD Candidates Dilip Krishnamurthy and Shashank Sripad.

Using their high-performance computing cluster, the team then simulated millions of vehicles within the target area, providing a heat map of the best areas to place the chargers. The researchers were able to effectively model different driving conditions, such as hot and cold weather. 

“This will allow intelligent placement of chargers such that each charger will see optimal utilization thereby reducing the number of chargers that need to be installed and thus lowering the infrastructure investment cost—without sacrificing the charger’s utility to its consumers,” said Guttenberg.

The team collaborated with Ather Energy, an electric vehicle company based in India, on this work. 

"In India, where the electric vehicle market is still nascent, there are some challenges before the hockey stick growth can start,” said Nishant Nishant, senior manager of Charging Infrastructure for Ather Energy. “One of the biggest such challenges, is setting up a cost-effective charging infrastructure network to support the EV ecosystem. Modeling for a future market, which is dependent on many variables like traffic, whether, road density, vehicular density etc., is the challenge for which Ather and CMU came together to participate in this Hackathon."

Although Viswanathan’s team didn't win the grand prize, he says, “We received an exceptional amount of positive feedback about our approach and appreciated the opportunity to be considered for this award.”