Researchers at North Carolina State University have made it harder for anyone to use range anxiety as an excuse for not wanting to own an electric car. A team of computer engineering professors has created software that more accurately estimates the amount of miles the car has left on a battery charge than the current technology being used in the vehicles.
With the new technique, drivers plug in their destination and the software calculates a host of variables to predict the energy use that will be required for the trip. For example, the current technology used in cars to estimate range may tell you that you can make it from point A to point B based on the charge left, the miles required and how much energy has been consumed in the past few miles, but if you suddenly encounter hills or drive at higher speeds on an interstate, the miles left in the battery could drop below that estimate.
“Existing technologies estimate remaining range based on average energy consumption of the past 5 miles, 15 miles, etc.,” said Dr. Habiballah Rahimi-Eichi, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State. “By plugging in the destination, our software looks at traffic data, whether you’ll be on the highway or in the city, weather, road grade, and other variables. This predictive, big-data approach is a significant step forward, reducing the range estimation error to a couple of miles. In some case studies, we were able to get 95 percent range estimation accuracy.”
The software analyzes all of the information about the route to the destination and determines which pieces are important and plugs those into the algorithm to predict range. The algorithm then also takes into consideration the charge remaining in the battery and the performance of the car to come up with the most accurate estimate of range.
The researchers have patented their technology and will present their findings to the 40th Annual Conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society at the end of this week. Pretty soon, range anxiety could be a thing of the past.