A fleet of 130 virtual electric cars is ready to take to the roads of Munich, Germany. Technische Universität München (TUM) will begin tracking the movements of selected taxis and commercial vehicles using smartphones. The tracking data will be used to predict the feasibility and the environmental and economic impact of electric vehicles performing the same drive cycles.
Special smartphones being distributed to the project participants are loaded with software developed by TUM’s Institute of Automotive Technology. The software will record the exact location of the vehicle via GPS, along with driving behavior like acceleration, deceleration and turns. As this driving data is being collected, the software will simulate the operation of a virtual electric vehicle, calculating the energy consumption and showing the charge status of a virtual battery.
Parallel to this virtual-vehicle phase, the simulation will also be validated using a real electric car. “This will show various taxi and commercial operators that partial electrification of their fleet would not only be technically feasible, but would already offer economic and environmental benefits,” maintains engineer Benedikt Jäger from TUM’s Institute of Automotive Technology.
Researchers also expect to learn what electric vehicles will need to handle the considerable distances driven by taxis and commercial vehicles every day. Electric vehicles have different ranges, depending on their intended purpose, so another goal of the project is to learn where charging stations would be needed along various taxi and commercial routes. The study will likely uncover other needs too. Partners in the study include various city, state and national government agencies, as well as the local taxi drivers’ association and the local labor administration. The project is just one part of the “Smart Car – Smart Grid – Smart Traffic” electro-mobility research program sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Economy and Technology.
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