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Continental sketches intelligent on-board car charging architecture

January 12, 2011 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222901313
Continental sketches intelligent on-board car charging architecture The lack of a charging infrastructure and a bundle of objections from the users (“range anxiety”) are some main obstacles that keep e-car markets from taking off. Automotive supplier Continental AG tries to counter these objections with a concept that bundles most of the intelligence for a smart infrastructure within the vehicles instead in the charging stations.

At the Detroit Motor Show, Continental board member Helmut Matschi introduced the concept that includes hardware platforms as well as software and data services. The Continental concept aims at speeding the market introduction of electric vehicles suitable for everyday use. “While we believe that the internal combustion engine will prevail for many years, we will enable consumers to use electric vehicles in the same spontaneous, autonomous and flexible way as gasoline and diesel cars”, Matschi said during an event at the Detroit Motor Show. “Connected cars will be able to meet the expectations of their users”. The manager added that Continental's architecture will simplify and speed the roll-out of the charging infrastructure, since the intelligence and connectivity required to charge the vehicles will be located in the cars, not in the infrastructure.

In order to provide this functionality, Continental intends to establish a data network across which all parties involved can exchange the necessary information. Towards this end, Continental positions its AutoLinQ head unit as the vehicle computing platform. AutoLinQ is equipped with navigation and wireless communication facilities; in addition, it has interfaces to the vehicle's internal bus systems. Beyond this computing and connectivity platform, Continental also intends to offer connectivity services and, along with partners, the wireless data communication and the data processing.

Partnerships with relevant content providers are also a building block of the concept: Information from inside the vehicle including data received from other vehicles via car-to-car communication and data from external content providers will make sure car drivers always have real-time access to a complete set of relevant information such as traffic congestions, weather condition and even geographical data: Where are declining tracks enabling the car to charge its batteries through the kinetic energy? Where are charging stations that currently offer capacity to recharge my batteries?

In contrast to infrastructure-bound intelligence, the intelligence inside the vehicle also support charging from simple non-intelligent outlets while the billing process can be retained. Since all the intelligence is in the car, even complex charging algorithms can be implemented via “dumb” conventional outlets, taking into account the amount of energy required and the energy price in real-time, Continental said.

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