Want to win an electric car? We don’t know what kind or any important detail like that, but the thrill here is the hunt, not the kill. We’re talking about a new contest being run by Carnegie Mellon University’s electric car conversion project, ChargeCar, that will award an electric car to the person who can find the the most efficient method for managing power in electric vehicles. Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics and director of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab, said he believes it is only the wisdom of the masses that will provide ChargeCar with the best power management algorithm:
The number of variables that could possibly affect an electric car’s performance and the strain on its batteries is virtually infinite. Crowdsourcing is our best hope for sifting through those variables to find the optimal method for managing the flow of current between the motor and the power storage system. A contest seems the best way to draw a crowd and tap its wisdom.
ChargeCar is all about crowdsourcing data and making it publicly available. The graph above, for example, shows that the typical urban commute is just six kilometers (just under four miles) and that most are under 35 kilometers (22 miles). This information was gleaned from thousands of trips logged by volunteers. Another ChargeCar project is testing to see if using low-cost lead acid batteries coupled with a supercapacitor is a good way to provide power to an EV.