Spark tests EV with BP at the wheel
Cambridge-founded electric vehicle (EV) company Spark Technology has announced a successful collaboration with BP that provided real-world trials which validated its advanced range prediction system for electric vehicles.
“Our trial with Spark EV helped to increase our understanding of how technology could help reduce consumer range anxiety, especially for new EV drivers,” said Sophia Nadur, innovation director, BP. “We now look forward to working together to explore further potential applications into future software iterations.”
With EVs likely to make up more than 30 per cent of global car sales by 2025, the race is on to iron out erratic range and display fluctuations, particularly during test drives.
By delivering more accurate range predictions, based on actual driving style, topography and current atmospheric conditions, Spark’s proprietary technology overcomes these fears and increases driver trust that they will be able to get to their destination without needing to recharge. The company’s AI algorithms learn with every journey so the system continually improves the accuracy of personalised journey predictions.
The project saw BP employees based at five locations drive 10,000km in two types of EVs equipped with Spark’s journey prediction solution and supplied by Zipcar and Avis Budget Group. As part of the testing phase, drivers entered their proposed journey into Spark’s smartphone application to record data and make comparisons with the onboard range display. They then received personalised advice on whether they could complete it – based on live data, driving style, urban/country routes, previous trips and charge point locations.
“The success of this initial project has opened up major new opportunities for Spark within the automotive sector as we launch our new fundraising round,” said CEO Justin Ott. “We look forward to working together further in the future.”
Incorrect range predictions impact drivers in two ways. Underprediction, where the actual journey uses more energy than forecast, leads to range anxiety, with drivers worried about being able to complete their journey. Overprediction, when a journey actually uses less range than projected, contributes to time anxiety, as drivers unnecessarily charge their EV or put off trips altogether.
During Spark’s trial with BP, it was observed that one car could have driven 45 miles more than its displayed range, and on another journey an extra 21 miles more range had to be used to complete the journey than the car predicted.