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Honda secures battery supply contract for about 1 million electric vehicles with CATL

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Honda hasn’t been one of the most active automakers when it comes to electrification, but it is now making some big moves, including securing a battery cell supply contract for about 1 million electric vehicles with CATL, one of the largest battery manufacturers in the world.

Yesterday in Tokyo, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) and Honda signed “a cooperation agreement to formally cooperate to develop electric vehicles for the future market.”

The two companies had already been working together.

Last year, it was reported that Honda is working on an affordable all-electric Fit-based car with CATL for a global release.

Naosumi Tada, head of CATL’s Japanese subsidiary, commented:

“Customer-centered is the philosophy that CATL has always insisted on. We hope that we can establish….

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Source: https://electrek.co/2019/02/06/honda-catl-battery-supply-1-million-electric-vehicles/amp/

Author: Fred Lambert


Another disappointing solar auction for Japan as prices stay high

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In last month’s exercise, final prices were slightly lower than those seen in previous procurements and the total allocated capacity was 196.6 MW. Through the three tenders held by the Japanese government, around 500 MW of solar was assigned, against a target of 1-1.5 GW. Land availability, grid constraints high labor costs make projects expensive and force developers to use mountainous regions.

The Japanese solar sector is still having problems driving down the cost of large-scale PV to levels seen in other mature markets, despite the nation has been one of the world’s first to provide incentives and to deploy significant capacity volumes.

In the third and latest auction for utility-scale PV projects – held in mid-December by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) – the final prices fell slightly but remained considerably higher than those seen in markets such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Spain, which delivered record low bids of $0.020-0.030/kWh. Worryingly, December’s prices were also higher than those generated by recent auctions in Germany, France, Brazil, and Argentina, which came in at $0.035-0.060/kWh.

The average price from Japan’s third auction was JPY15.01 ($0.136) per kWh, with the lowest bid JPY14.25 and the highest JPY15.45. METI had received 38 bids but pre-qualified only 16, with a total capacity of around 300 MW. It then selected seven projects with a total capacity of 196.6 MW.

The selected bidders were CS Yamaguchi Bofu, for a 5 MW project offering JPY14.25/kWh; Tida Power110, with 18 MW at JPY14.49; Isaac Corporation – 3 MW at JPY15; Pacifico Energy Corporation – 85 MW at JPY15.17; Sparks Green Energy & Technology Co Ltd – 21.7 MW at JPY15.34; Solar Power Development Research Institute Inc – 62.8 MW at JPY15.37; and Sennan Country Club, 1.2 MW at JPY15.45.

A litany of disappointments

In an under-subscribed first auction held in November 2017, only 140 MW of a hoped-for 500 MW of capacity was awarded, at an average price of JPY19.6/kWh.

The second auction, in September, was more successful in terms of capacity, with around 197 MW and the lowest bid of JPY16.47. However, METI had established an initial ceiling price of JPY15.50/kWh without telling participants until bidding had started. As the lowest bid was still JPY0.97 off METI’s desired maximum, the ministry said it was disappointing. The ministry added, as not all the 250 MW of capacity it had initially allotted was allocated, just 196.96 MW would be allotted in mid-December.

METI department the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy admitted it had been intended for the three auctions to secure 1-1.5 GW of new PV capacity.

The Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) told PV magazine the result of the latest auction was disappointing for the industry, which is fully aware system costs must be lowered as soon as possible.

IHS Markit analyst Holly Hu agreed prices for large-scale solar in Japan remain too high. “The Japan market is unique, as its system cost [is] still at [an] high price with Japanese brands,” she told pv magazine. “And their cost in non-system parts is … higher than other regions [and includes factors] such as land and grid connection [and] installation labor cost.”

Uphill road in land of the rising sun

Japan’s long and difficult transition from FITs to auctions has prompted Fitch Solutions Macro Research to predict a strong contraction of the market for 2021-2027, with only an estimated 14 GW of new installations anticipated.

Land availability – in part due to restrictions on the use of abandoned agricultural sites – and grid constraints are becoming critical concerns, said the JPEA, which told PV magazine: “The Japanese PV sector is now increasingly developing projects in mountainous areas. However, we have considerably large land where farming is given up.” Around 73% of Japan is mountainous, with arable land making up only around 11.6% of the country’s surface.

Auctions for large-scale solar may become more successful when a huge pipeline of around 23.5 GW of projects initiated under the FIT scheme reach completion. METI recently decided to reduce FITs of JPY40-32/kWh to JPY21/kWh and the scheme is set to expire with no more contracts to be signed, but the market segment nevertheless remains more attractive than auctions.


Source: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/01/24/another-disappointing-solar-auction-for-japan-as-prices-stay-high/


Image Credit: Daniel Ramirez/Flickr


Molex, Accenture and Amazon Web Services Co-Develop Edge Computing Solution Powering NextGen Autonomous Vehicles

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  • Integrates edge computing and Amazon Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service
  • Machine Learning capabilities allow for adaptive network security and network diagnosis through OTA updates
  • Promotes seamless and secure communication between the vehicle and the cloud

LAS VEGAS; Jan. 8, 2019 – Molex is expanding its autonomous and connected vehicle capabilities by working with Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring edge computing and voice assistant capabilities to the Molex Automotive Ethernet Network Platform. These new digital enhancements to the Platform offer essential autonomous vehicle performance and communication functionality for automotive OEMs.
“In combination with the groundbreaking features of our Automotive Ethernet Network Platform, AWS and Accenture’s contribution can profoundly help our customers innovate faster, drive down costs and build some of the most advanced vehicles in the automotive industry,” said Joseph Stenger, global product manager for connected mobility solutions, Molex. “We look forward to working together in the development of industry-leading technology solutions that help automotive OEMs design for the cars of tomorrow.”
The Molex platform is an Ethernet-based vehicle conn… Read More


Source: https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/molex-accenture-and-amazon-web-services-co-develop-edge-computing-solution-powering-nextgen-autonomous-vehicles.htm




The “Car OS”: Our Investment in Apex.AI

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How can developers ensure that the software driving an autonomous vehicle (AV) won’t “crash” or fail on the road? How can consumers be confident that robots meet the highest safety, security, and reliability standards? These are critical questions that autonomous systems must answer to successfully and safely escape the lab.

At Toyota AI Ventures, we look for entrepreneurs that have the vision to conceive of broad-market solutions, the expertise to bring them to life, and the tenacity to see them through. We found that combination in the team at Apex.AI, and I’m so pleased to announce our investment in them.

Founded by Jan Becker and Dejan Pangercic, Apex.AI is developing a reliable, safe, and certified software for autonomous mobility that builds on the Robot Operating System (ROS) open-source framework. Think of Apex.AI’s framework as the Software Development Kit (SDK) for autonomous driving. Similar to the way the mobile phone operating systems (OS), like the iPhone OS and Android OS, have created an ecosystem where developers can build applications, Apex.AI is doing the same for AV developers for the “Car OS.”

Apex.AI’s initial product offerings include Apex.OS and Apex.Autonomy. The first is a flexible, robust software framework based on the latest version of ROS, known as ROS 2, where developers can build production-grade applications. With Apex. Autonomy, developers can choose from a set of software “building blocks” to create a custom autonomy stack. To start, Apex.AI is offering its own LiDAR processing solution, and the team plans to partner with other companies to offer additional layers of the stack.

The Apex.AI team is committed to an ecosystem approach where they and others contribute to the continued evolution of ROS and another open source project known as Autoware, an autonomous driving stack that sits on top of ROS. They demonstrated that commitment by co-founding the Autoware Foundation, a non-profit organization that includes supporters like Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD), ARM, and Intel, among others.

CEO Jan Becker and CTO Dejan Pangercic started Apex.AI in 2017, and they have long been active in the autonomous driving and robotics communities. Most recently, they worked together at Faraday Future. Prior to that, Jan led AV development at Bosch and was a lecturer at Stanford University, where he continues to teach a course on the future of automated driving. Jan has 20+ years of AV experience going back to his days at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany where he developed early autonomous driving systems. He was also a member of Stanford’s team in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. Dejan worked at Bosch as well, where he developed robots before going on to become a CTO at Deepfield Robotics. He has been working with ROS for over a decade and received his doctorate in robotics from the Technical University Munich.

True to their open-source roots, the Apex.AI team believes that autonomy is a huge challenge that would benefit from community collaboration — a vision that we share.

While Apex.OS is initially aiming at the automotive market, their software framework is application-agnostic so it can be used by other autonomous systems — from industrial robotics to aerospace vehicles. As autonomous systems migrate from research and development to real-world production, Apex.AI’s focus on reliability and security becomes ever more mission-critical.

It’s a mission we’re proud to be a part of. Toyota AI Ventures joins the company’s $15.5M Series A round, announced last November, alongside lead investor Canaan Partners and seed investor Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Visit the Apex.AI website to learn more and apply to join this all-star team.

Author: Jim Adler

Source: https://medium.com/toyota-ai-ventures/the-car-os-our-investment-in-apex-ai-47c5d3ee2b4d


Nissan-Renault alliance joins Google on self-driving cars

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TOKYO — The alliance of Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles, Nikkei has learned.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring.

The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled over 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault alliance boasts greater scale.

Nissan’s pivot to embrace a major outside partner in self-driving marks an attempt to catch up in a field where the alliance trails rivals. BMW and Ford Motor plan to have fully automated driving systems commercialized around 2021, a year ahead of Nissan’s 2022 goal.

The alliance and Waymo will cooperate in what is known as mobility as a service, or MaaS, a shift from vehicle ownership to the use of on-demand transportation. Possibilities include developing a fleet of driverless taxis using Nissan vehicles and a system that handles reservation and payments.

A Waymo self-driving minivan cruises along a road. The Google spinoff has started a driverless taxi service in the U.S. (Source: Waymo)


Waymo debuted a commercial self-driving taxi service in the western U.S. city of Phoenix late last year. The Renault alliance’s strong presence in electric cars offers the Google affiliate a chance to be at the forefront of establishing standards for next-generation vehicles.Google is a key player in developing infrastructure for onboard services, with products such as Google Maps. Nissan and Renault, with their wide reach in Asia and elsewhere, can help the company launch self-driving technologies in more markets.

Creating software for autonomous cars requires considerable spending to accumulate and analyze vast amounts of vehicle operation data. Boston Consulting Group estimates the development of self-driving taxis will require $1.8 trillion in investment by 2035.

The financial burden makes it difficult for software developers to operate alone, and many companies have entered cross-industry tie-ups with automakers and other stakeholders.

Nissan and its alliance partners have shared automation technology among themselves, leading to quick commercialization of collision avoidance and driver assistance systems. The group has also forged some partnerships with outside developers.

Nissan teamed with U.S. space agency NASA in 2015 to develop remote control technology and Japanese online services developer DeNA in 2017 to create a hailing service with automated driving. In September, the alliance decided to fully introduce Google’s Android operating system in its onboard information systems starting in 2021.

But the alliance’s policy for self-driving had been to collect and analyze their own data and develop software themselves rather than share it with other companies. The need for artificial intelligence to analyze data and operate driverless cars has prompted the alliance to rethink this strategy.

Nissan has been relying more on outside resources to develop connected cars, automated driving, sharing services and electric vehicles — new areas of auto industry competition collectively referred to as CASE. The automaker decided to sell a battery subsidiary in 2017 and now procures the component from Chinese and other suppliers.

Under former chief Carlos Ghosn, the alliance tended to put practical gains ahead of other considerations in choosing partners. The new leadership chosen following Ghosn’s arrest in Japan looks likely to continue this course.

Rival automakers also are expanding their partnerships with other industries. Toyota Motor is collaborating with Uber Technologies to advance the Japanese company’s Guardian driver assistance system. Toyota plans to release self-driving cars with Uber’s software and the Guardian system in 2021. It also is cooperating with SoftBank Group to popularize its e-Palette, an electric vehicle for mobility services.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Nissan-Renault-alliance-joins-Google-on-self-driving-cars



Tesla to Acquire Ultracapacitor Company Maxwell

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Tesla plans to acquire ultracapacitor company Maxwell Technologies in a deal announced Monday by the two companies.


Mike Wilk, Maxwell senior systems engineer, is part of the team that installed the first ultracapacitor energy storage system on UC San Diego’s microgrid. (Photo: Maxwell Technologies)

The San Diego, California manufacturer would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesla in the all-stock acquisition. The offer values Maxwell common stock at $4.75/share, a 54.7% premium to its closing price Friday of $3.07.

The $218 million sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019….

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Author: Elisa Wood


Million-dollar executives multiply in corporate Japan

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TOKYO — The number of Japanese executives paid at least 100 million yen ($903,000) annually topped 500 for the first time last fiscal year as global competition for talent spurred broader use of lucrative Western-style compensation structures.

A total of 538 senior officials at listed companies that closed their books in March made 100 million yen or more in fiscal 2017, up 15% on the year, according to data compiled by Tokyo Shoko Research from financial filings. A record 240 companies reported having such executives, 17 more than in fiscal 2016.

CEO pay tends to be lower in Japan than in other developed countries. Willis Towers Watson found that median CEO compensation at big companies in fiscal 2016 came to around $1.2 million in Japan, compared with $11.7 million in the U.S. and $5.3 million in the U.K.

Western companies frequently offer generous performance bonuses linked to earnings and other targets, as well as stock options. Such incentives have grown more common in Japan in recent years, boosting executive pay in a strong year for businesses and the stock market.

Technology and investment conglomerate SoftBank Group had four of the 10 highest-paid officials. Vice Chairman Ronald Fisher raked in about $18 million, placing second overall. SoftBank Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra and Marcelo Claure, who was then CEO and is now executive chairman of U.S. wireless subsidiary Sprint, each earned more than $10 million. Claure was tapped to lead Sprint in 2014 for his success at building a global supply chain from the ground up at Brightstar, a carrier he founded that was bought by SoftBank.

Ken Miyauchi, CEO of the Japanese mobile unit, ranked 10th at $7.8 million. SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son earned a relatively paltry $1.2 million.

The $24 million paid to Kazuo Hirai for his final year as Sony CEO lifted him to the top of the list. Current CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, who served as chief financial officer last fiscal year, earned $8.1 million.

Five of the top-earning executives hail from outside Japan. Many businesses facing the difficult task of plotting strategy in a global market have turned to experienced outside leaders. Some companies have relaxed limits on overall executive compensation to attract or retain talent, including SoftBank, which raised its cap on total executive pay excluding share-based payments to $45 million from $7.2 million.

Didier Leroy, who was appointed Toyota Motor‘s first foreign executive vice president in 2015, saw his pay jump 50% to around $9 million — the highest for the automaker since Japan began mandating disclosure of executive pay of at least 100 million yen with fiscal 2009. Toyota’s total executive pay climbed 14% to $17.3 million, even with one less executive reaching the disclosure threshold.

Lixil Group CEO Kinya Seto earned $10.1 million, putting him in sixth place. Seto has worked to restructure overseas operations of the housing equipment maker since taking the helm in 2016. He began his career at trading house Sumitomo Corp. and went on to establish more than 10 companies, most recently tool seller Monotaro, whose rapid growth factored into his appointment at Lixil.

Takeda Pharmaceutical CEO Christophe Weber received $10.9 million and Ryota Akazawa, the recently departed president of Fuso Chemical, was paid $9.3 million. Though Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s pay fell 30% to $6.6 million, he earned roughly $17.1 million in total from that role and as head of alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

While not in the top 10, Mitsubishi Electric and Hitachi were well-represented on the overall list, with 22 and 18 executives earning at least 100 million yen.



Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Trends/Million-dollar-executives-multiply-in-corporate-Japan


Toshiba to Supply its Microgrid Controller for Maldives Project

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A subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba has won a contract to install its microgrid controller and energy management system in a 10-MW hybrid microgrid on the Maldives’ Hithadhoo Island.

Hithadhoo Island, which forms part of the Maldives’ remote Addu Atoll, has its own, independent power grid. The microgrid will serve as the grid’s new core.

Scheduled to go live in 2020, the microgrid will incorporate 1.7 MW of existing solar, existing diesel generators, and a 1 MW-0.3 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions (Toshiba ESS) is working on the microgrid with project leader Nishizawa. Toshiba ESS joined with Nishizawa early on, helping assemble a project consortium and produce a tender proposal for the Maldives government. Nishizawa was awarded the microgrid contract last December, a Toshiba ESS’ spokesperson said.

Inside the hybrid microgrid

Adding the BESS to store energy produced by the solar PV system will help smooth out variable, intermittent flows of solar. Toshiba’s Micro Energy Management System, or цEMS, will coordinate and manage the microgrid’s assets to optimize their performance and minimize use of diesel.

Minimizing diesel fuel imports and costs, and reducing associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other forms of environmental pollution is a primary goal of the project, said the Toshiba ESS spokesperson.

T.T. Network Infrastructure Japan Corporation (TTNI), a Toshiba ESS-Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings joint venture, conducted the project feasibility study. “TTNI calculated the effectiveness of the microgrid system and how the system can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” the spokesperson told Microgrid Knowledge.

Along the way, TTNI gathered the data to create fuel consumption curves for the diesel generators, electricity demand and other key generation, load and distribution system parameters throughout the microgrid’s service area, said the spokesperson.

TTNI also calculated how, and by how much, fuel consumption would be reduced by цEMS’s operation, including by prioritizing the operation of diesel generators according to fuel-efficiency capabilities, stabilizing solar PV generation output by smoothing out fluctuations, and increasing the percentage of PV power flowing on to the grid.

All told, the microgrid could reduce total diesel fuel consumption on the Hithadhoo Island power grid by 4.5 million gallons and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 45,000 metric tons over the course of an expected, 15-year life, according to Toshiba ESS.

hybrid microgrid

Courtesy of Toshiba ESS

Toshiba’s energy management history

Toshiba ESS has a long history of supplying energy management systems “for central load dispatch centers and SCADA [systems] for regional load dispatch centers. Both are for power companies,” Toshiba ESS’s spokesperson said.

The company has been supplying its micro-EMS since the company began rolling out smart grid technologies commercially around 2000. Since then, the new energy technology has been deployed around the world, including as part of a microgrid system in New Mexico.

“We have continued to carry out market research in remote-island areas since we began marketing smart grid technologies,” he added. “Many companies have been focusing on the Maldives as the target market for microgrid systems, as we have.”

Funding from Japanese ministry

The Maldives hybrid microgrid marks the first project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Environment’s Japan Fund Joint Crediting Mechanism (JFJCM). It’s also the first designed to enhance cooperation between Japan and developing countries to reduce GHG emissions.

The project also falls under the umbrella of POISED (Preparing Outer Islands for Sustainable Energy Development),” a program funded by the Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank, JFJCM and Government of the Maldives, that is promoting deployment of similar hybrid microgrid systems in the Maldives.


Author: Andrew Burger

Source: https://microgridknowledge.com/toshiba-supply-microgrid-controller-maldives-project/


Advancing Vehicle-to-Grid Tech: Why Solar Energy Needs Your Electric Car

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Solar may be the future of energy production, but for the time being, it causes a lot of problems.  Energy producers, grid managers, and energy markets have struggled to adapt to the growing amount of solar panels being installed, especially in areas like California.

In short, the problems stem from two simple facts: first, that solar doesn’t produce at night, and second, that we do not yet have large, grid-level batteries capable of storing excess solar power and releasing it after sundown.

Part of the solution is to use the many smaller batteries already attached to the grid, namely those powering electric cars, an idea generally referred to as vehicle-to-grid, or V2G. While this idea has been around for several years, progress has gone at a snail’s pace, but researchers have recently hit some important milestones toward achieving commercial use of V2G.

The Problems with Solar and the Duck Curve

Energy companies need to tweak production to meet consumer demand, which is easy with non-renewable sources such as the burning of hydrocarbons. But with solar energy, production is limited to the hours the sun is up. When the sun goes down and people draw more from the grid to turn on lights, for example, energy companies need to quickly increase production from coal, natural gas, and other sources. This is both expensive and taxing on infrastructure, because power plants and staff are not designed or trained for this.

This rapid increase is best illustrated by the duck curve. The amount of non-renewable energy consumed during the day and the sharp uptick later in the afternoon resembles the shape of a duck.

If areas like California, where this graph comes from, continue to add photovoltaics at the projected rate, by 2020 they are at risk of overproducing. In fact, Hawaii’s rapid adoption of solar creates such a sharp uptick when the sun goes down that their graph has been dubbed the Nessie curve, after the Loch Ness Monster’s long neck. Some developing countries have an even more pronounced late-day rise, creating what some have called the shark curve.

Another problem is that solar plants are too good at producing electricity during the day. They produce so much that some need to be taken offline to avoid oversupplying the grid, a process known as curtailment. This weakens grid reliability, makes building new plants financially unattractive, and throws a wrench into energy markets, as energy prices are largely determined by supply and demand.

The long-term solution to these problems is batteries large enough to store excess solar power. Although there are many of these being developed, hurdles still exist for wide-scale implementation.


Until bigger and better batteries are employed to store excess solar energy, energy companies, car manufacturers, regulators, and researchers are turning to the batteries already in electric cars. Because many of these cars are idle roughly 80 percent of the time, their batteries can be used to feed energy back into the grid during peak demand hours and to store excess solar energy during peak production hours.

While this sounds relatively simple, a quick foray into the field reveals a host of complications. For example, electric car batteries are lithium-ion, and these only have a lifespan of under 500 cycles of charging/discharging. Being forced to go through more cycles reduces their longevity, although the research results vary quite a bit by how much. However, efforts are underway to replace lithium-ion with lithium-sulfur, magnesium-ion, or sodium-ion batteries, which offer longer life spans.

Another problem is that most batteries and hookups for electric cars are not bidirectional—that is, energy can only flow one way, and reversing the flow would require inverters to convert a battery’s DC current into the grid’s AC current. This can cause a significant loss in energy.

It also needs to be figured out who pays for the loss in battery life and the inverters. Do consumers need to shoulder the extra cost, or is it the responsibility of energy companies? What incentive is there for car manufacturers to produce bidirectional batteries and hookups?

These are probably the biggest questions, but others exist. For example, is it voluntary for customers to allow their batteries to be used this way or should it be mandatory? How would grid managers schedule and control the release of stored energy to avoid overloading the grid? What kind of regulations need to be passed for this to work?

Current Research

To help answer some of these questions, researchers like those at Pecan Street, an Austin-based nonprofit, have been performing extensive tests. In particular, with funding from Austin Energy and the Department of Energy, they have focused on the new Nissan LEAF, which is among the first commercially available cars to offer vehicle-to-grid.

Just recently, they successfully transferred energy back into the grid and collected a myriad of data points to scrutinize. With this data, the company is analyzing how the local grid is affected, the efficiency of the charging stations, the effect the process has on the battery, energy loss over a given distance, and many other data points, all of which are necessary to help Austin and surrounding areas increase the amount of solar energy they produce, an integral part of Austin SHINES.

Pecan Street also has hundreds of volunteer homes across the country that allow for data collection on energy usage, as well as the amount they produce from their own solar panels, which is being used by researchers around the world to help integrate renewables into their local grids.

Scott Hinson, the chief technology officer at Pecan Street, believes vehicle-to-grid tech will not solve the solar energy problem on its own, but in conjunction with other methods it can help mitigate the problems with solar. In an interview with Singularity Hub, he pointed to the fact that V2G could be used during emergencies, as the average electric car battery can power a household for several hours during a blackout.

He also believes that a part of pushing people to adopt this technology will be financial incentives. For example, if people charge their batteries during the day when electricity is cheap and sell if back in the evening when electricity is more expensive, they could actually make a profit.

Overall, Scott is optimistic about V2G. “Electric vehicles by themselves have great potential for cleaner transit, but using them as energy storage can unlock the ability to have more renewable generation from wind and solar and a cleaner energy system,” he said.

Image Credit: Immersion Imagery / Shutterstock.com

Author:  Scott Simonsen



Toyota’s Tri-Ad Division Wants Open Source Maps to Guide the Self-Driving Cars of Tomorrow

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If Toyota has its way, the maps guiding your future autonomous vehicle won’t be delivered through Google, Apple, Baidu, or TomTom, but via a map platform as free and accessible as Linux, MySQL, Apache, and the zillions of other open source programs powering our lives. That open source map project is called AMP, or in “Autonomous Mapping Platform.”

The concept was presented Thursday by Mandali Khalesi, the man in charge of mapping systems, automated driving strategy, product and alliances of Tri-Ad, the autonomous drive company started by Toyota with Denso and Aisin. Tri-Ad’s mission is to turn the research developed by TRI, or Toyota Research Institute, into products, with the help of nearly 2,000 employees and a $2.8 billion budget.

At Tri-Ad, Khalesi joins an A-team of tech celebrities. CEO James Kuffner was a member of the software engineering team that developed Google’s self-driving car. he company’s CTO is Ken Koibuchi, who was in charge of Toyota’s automated driving technologies. The software chief is Nikos Michalakis, who built Netflix’s cloud platform. And UX is in the hands of Thor Lewis, a former Google alumnus.

Like everyone at the top of Tri-Ad, Khalesi is a colorful man. He graduated with a degree in astrophysics; when the light hits him in a certain way, you could mistake him for an alien. He came to Japan in 1999; six years later, he became famous for establishing Japan’s first location-based mobile advertising business for luxury brands in a traditional Japanese house in downtown Tokyo. He worked for map companies such as TomTom and Nokia, and headed the Asia-Pacific business of Nokia Here, which later was bought by a consortium of Daimler, Audi and BMW. Toyota then snatched him up as its global head of automated driving mobility and innovation.

Four-dimensional maps are central to automated driving, Khalesi said. “Without a mapping framework, the vehicle is driving blind.” Companies the world over are feverishly amassing mapping data, but then, the data sits mostly tucked away in “sensor silos at OEMs, telematics companies, and mapping companies,” as Khalesi explained.

Depending on where the bulk of drivers drive, the data can get quite tribal. “If I have 100 million miles of test data from California, I won’t have a system that can drive in Mumbai,” Khalesi’s boss James Kuffner said. “Data quantity isn’t the end of story. We need data quality and data diversity.”

Sitting in their silos and accessed through proprietary channels, data cannot enhance and complement other such sets. “What we really need is a one stop open API, something where anybody can access the data from wherever they are by any software or hardware,” Khalesi said.

Unbeknownst to many, Toyota has quietly become a big open source champion. Toyota was the main driver behind Automotive Grade Linux, an open source O/S supported by many OEMs and suppliers around the world. Toyota also is a premium member of the Autoware Foundation, a non-profit supporting open-source projects for self-driving mobility.

Tri-Ad has shown proofs of concept, and in a year or two, you should be able to clone your copy of AMP from Github, Khalesi told me. Once AMP is up and running, Toyota will fill it not only with data generated by the 10 million cars the company sells each year, but eventually with data coming from hundreds of millions of other cars. Anyone is free to use AMP, said Khalesi, “but in return we expect OEMs, fleets, taxi companies, developers to share anonymized data on AMP with other users.”  I asked Khalesi where that would leave his former employer Here, which had plans to become the world’s supplier of real-time mapping systems. “They will be welcome to use the system like everybody else,” he said.

Toyota’s initiative to leapfrog the nascent mapping business with a bold open-source project could hit the presumptive mapping giant Here during a delicate phase. There is incessant chatter in Here’s new hometown of Berlin that the company’s top management could be concentrating on low-hanging—and decidedly non-automotive—fruit, such as credit cards and retail, in an attempt to beautify the company for an IPO. A source close to the matter told me Here’s early focus on automotive seems to be getting lost, to the chagrin of the company’s backers in the auto industry.

After all, telling cars where to go—autonomous or otherwise—is big business. Khalesi said that map suppliers charge OEMs “a few hundred dollars per car.” There are roughly 100 million automobiles sold worldwide each year. If successful, Tri-As’s AMP could disrupt a $20 billion business before it gets going in earnest.

Author: Bartel Schmitt

Source: http://amp.timeinc.net/thedrive/tech/26268/toyotas-tri-ad-division-wants-open-source-maps-to-guide-the-self-driving-cars-of-tomorrow?source=dam&__twitter_impression=true