How Advancement in Software Is Propelling the Growth of Electric Vehicles?
An electric vehicle predominantly has two main components – hardware components and software components. The software components of an EV are essentially the backbone of the vehicle, since they determine how efficiently the hardware components function.
Multiple embedded software technologies have proven useful for the rapid growth of Electric Vehicles. For instance, the GreenBox from NXP is a software development platform for electric vehicles, internal combustion, and hybrid cars that manages tasks such as battery management, electric motors, and engines.
The rise in the number of internal-combustion cars that utilize non-renewable conventional fuels, has resulted in both energy and environmental concerns. As a result, several nations are encouraging the development of new energy vehicles (NEVs) as alternatives to traditional cars in order to minimize reliance on oil and fossil fuels used by conventional vehicles. This helps conserve the non-replenishable fuel sources and ensures an almost exclusively software-based automotive experience.
Inside an Electric Vehicle
It’s difficult to envision a contemporary automobile without embedded software. It’s even more difficult to conceive a car without it. Although we can witness the advent of software in traditional cars running on fossil fuels, the amount of integration between software and the critical functioning of a vehicle is very high in case of BEVs. Smart software, for example, acts as a limited-slip differential in the Tesla Model S. Explained very simply, a limited-slip differential provides additional torque to the wheel that has traction and reduces torque to the wheel that is slipping.
The software components that bind together the hardware constituents of an EV comprise the Batter Management System, Motor Control System, V2X (Vehicle to everything), the charging system including the on-board charger, Electric Power Control Unit (EPCU) etc.
Let’s take a close look at these software components
Battery Management System
Just like an ICE vehicle runs on fossil fuel, a BEV, as its name suggests, runs on batteries most popularly Li -ion cells. These batteries need an optimal set of operating conditions to run properly, and these conditions are monitored and maintained by the Battery Management System (BMS) of the vehicle. In brief, the BMS manages the battery pack and monitors all the relevant parameters so that the batteries operate in safe and optimal conditions.
The factors which affect the battery pack are Temperature, State of Charge (SOC) and State of Health (SOH). Temperature denotes the operating temperature at which the battery drives the vehicle, SOC is related to the current amount of charge present in the cells in the battery pack and SOH denoted the ability of the cells to retain charge and to discharge properly.
The key elements which make up an efficient BMS are:
- Thermal management: A Li-ion cell has an acceptable temperature range in which it works. Running it too hot or too cold may cause permanent degradation in the performance of the cells. It may also lead to catastrophic failures like combusting into flames. To control all this a BMS effectively manages the thermals of the battery packs and ensures the temperature is maintained by distributing coolant if necessary.
- Charge balancing: A battery pack in an electric vehicle comprises of cell modules each of which contain a number of individual cells. Even if manufactured at the same time cells in the entire pack may differ in the amount of charge they hold or the expected life cycle of the cells. As time goes on these differences magnify and the significant energy imbalance may result in the entire battery pack performing as poorly as its worst cell. Hence an efficient active charge balancing system sorts this issue a great deal by trying the maintain equal ageing and degradation across all cells. A good BMS can also detect changes in charging patterns and performance of battery over time to introduce fixes or being ready to trigger safety mechanisms in case it detects critical errors. This behaviour of a BMS is termed as predictive maintenance.
Motor Control System
In electric cars, the electric motor is at the heart of the propulsion system, converting electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy to drive the vehicle. However, a motor does not perform on its own without software that essentially controls its functions. The motor in an EV is driven by an embedded software system to generate maximum output. An electric motor in an electric vehicle is controlled by a Field Oriented Control (FOC)-based system.
The FOC based system comes with a set of hardware and software components that function together to yield maximum torque at the lowest speeds. The software components include:
- Speed and position estimation block that determines the rotor position and speed by performing necessary calculations.
- PID control block is a Proportional Integral Derivative closed loop feedback-based control system that performs by calculating and controlling three parameters – the proportional, integral, and derivative of how much a process variable deviates from the desired set point value. In case of EVs, this feedback comes in the form of torque. The difference between values of required torque and received torque are calculated and corrections are made accordingly.
- Transformation blocks convert the current signals into desired forms. The Clarke transform block converts the stator current into a two-co-ordinate system. Other transformation blocks include the Park transformer and reverse park transform
- Space vector modulation helps to determine the PWM signal that is fed to the motor.
FOC-based method simplifies control by dividing three-phase sinusoidal currents reference frames into flux and torque reference frames in an EV.
Regenerative braking in EVs is another constituent of the Motor Control System that ensures the motor is driven efficiently and maximum output is generated. It is a type of braking that returns energy to the system. It is a unique technology used in electric vehicles to recover energy generated by the vehicle’s motion, or kinetic energy, which would otherwise be squandered as the vehicle decelerates or comes to a stop while braking.
V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication enables vehicles to share data with one another as well as with their surroundings in real time. This allows road users to alert one another to critical driving situations and so help prevent accidents. The availability and accessibility of V2X technology is emphasized for EVs. V2X charging technology is perfect for households and business solutions because of its smaller size, lower weight, and simpler installation method.
The chance of an accident is lowered, and pollutant emissions are reduced, when cars are connected to one another and can communicate information with infrastructure. V2X (vehicle-to-everything connectivity) aids in traffic flow and is a crucial step toward autonomous driving. Future mobility’s new capabilities will be able to reach their full potential only with a solid and dependable data connection.
Key features of V2X Bi-Directional Charger:
- Small Size
- Easy Installation
- App Interface + Insights
- Faster Response Time
- Greater efficiency – Cooperative driving steers and the ability to drive with foresight save fuel.
- Enhanced safety – thanks to driver assistance beyond the line of sight
Electric Vehicles and Fundamental Technologies
Different Electric car software also aids with vehicle management. Electric car battery maintenance is critical since the battery pack is one of the most important components of a BEV. The battery management system (BMS) maintains the battery while also gathering data on its internal health.
The best aspect is that electric car software solutions can assist BEVs in overcoming key disadvantages. Changing a vehicle’s software won’t create additional electric car charging stations, however, it can help connect to those that already exist. For instance, Bosch Software Innovations has created smartphone applications to locate charging stations and pay for them for Smart, Renault, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
For electric cars, predictive maintenance software which is one of the functions of the Battery Management System (BMS) is essential. A monitoring system for automotive diagnostics is required to assist spot problems since they have specific maintenance and repair needs. Furthermore, these systems can alert the driver about particular sections that need to be inspected in accordance with the vehicle’s requirements. This type of software will assist drivers in planning their electric vehicle maintenance.
Read more about BMS and how it ensures safety in an EV here .
Since electric automobiles require purpose-built maintenance, software tools aid in vehicle management. Battery management systems make it feasible to maintain electric car batteries, while smart routing solves the range problem.
Software Advancements and an Era of Verdure
Navigation for electric cars based on the location of charging stations might be a true answer to the charging problem. Applications that are integrated with the car’s head unit can assist one in finding the nearest charging station, and battery management systems can create alerts when charging or maintenance is required.
A customer’s primary worry with BEVs is range, hence electric car route planning is critical. Software tools such as an electric car travel planner allow in-depth route analysis and optimization to save energy. Smart routing for electric cars can create the best route depending on the data obtained. Electric car design software aids in the evaluation of vehicle performance and the identification of design flaws in BEVs. Embedded software in electric vehicles improves comfort, safety, and value.