AI running in the cloud might be the solution to electric vehicles’ battery woes, if Bosch is on the right track. The Stuttgart, Germany-based company this morning announced a new service — Battery in the Cloud — designed to supplement vehicles’ battery management systems by implementing protections to reduce cell aging. It’s able to cut down on wear and tear by as much as 20%, the company claims, through continuous analysis of battery status, optimization of recharging processes, and delivery of energy conservation tips to drivers via in-car displays.
The first customer is Beijing-based mobility giant DiDi Chuxing, which as of 2018 had 550 million users and tens of millions of drivers on its platform. Bosch says DiDi will equip a pilot vehicle fleet with its battery services in the city of Xiamen.
“Bosch is connecting electric-vehicle batteries with the cloud,” said Bosch board of management member Markus Heyn. “Its data-based services mean we can substantially improve batteries’ performance and extend their service life.”
Connecting batteries to the cloud isn’t a new idea. In 2012, energy tech startup Greensmith made waves with a service that enabled utilities to control, manage, and monitor large batteries installed on the power grid. Another company — Advanced Charging Technologies — maintains a cloud-based app that offers real-time analytics and reports of fleet vehicle batteries and chargers.
But Bosch asserts that its offering goes further, as it transmits in real time battery data (like current ambient temperature and charging habits) to remote datacenters, where the data is ingested by machine learning algorithms that use it to predict a given power pack’s service life and performance. Bosch says the algorithms it leverages for analysis benefit from the diversity of data produced by a bank of batteries, as opposed to a single battery in isolation, and that they’re able to recognize and counter battery stress factors like rapid battery charging, high numbers of charge cycles, “overly sporty” driving styles, and extremely high or low ambient temperatures.
Beyond that, Battery in the Cloud implements safeguards like preventing batteries from charging to 100% when conditions are too hot or too cold, and it notifies drivers and fleet operators when batteries require urgent maintenance or repair. Furthermore, it calculates the individual charge curve and voltage levels for both fast and slow recharging processes, ensuring batteries are recharged to the “optimum level” no matter the power source.
Bosch says that in the future it will offer automakers recharging modes that “complement” available processes. For instance, it might roll out a rapid charging option that lets drivers juice up their vehicles quickly alongside a slow recharging mode guaranteed to prevent any potential damage to the battery.
“Powerful batteries with long services lives will make electromobility more viable,” said Heyn.