Our client, a distinguished innovator in the automotive industry who brings sophisticated in-car solutions and services to the global market, approached Intellias to build a series of intelligent electric vehicle navigation systems for quickly planning stops at charging stations along a route.
As vehicle electrification becomes a global trend, fueled by eco-awareness and green legislation, carmakers are focusing on building charging station trip planners as a killer feature for their electric vehicles (EVs). More and more automotive brands are realizing that multi-stop planning has become a critical functionality for drivers of electric vehicles.
As our client’s trusted and long-time engineering partner, Intellias took on the development of an innovative EV navigation system for enhanced route planning.
We set up a team composed of senior designers, developers, QA engineers, a product owner, and a project manager. Our automotive expertise and, in particular, our experience with EV routing algorithms and features, helped us implement a number of quality EV navigation products for our client’s end customers.
How the EV trip planner works
As navigation is integrated deeper into vehicles, more information becomes available to drivers. Our client’s advanced infotainment systems extensively interact with vehicles to generate a highly accurate range map showing the distance a vehicle can cover with the current battery charge. This functionality allows for optimized route planning based on the current driving range.
The route optimization software we built calculates the most feasible route, taking into account necessary stops at charging stations. The closest and fastest charging points are automatically added to the route so the driver can reach their destination without unnecessary detours and lengthy stopovers. An estimated time of arrival (ETA) and estimated charging time (ECT) are provided to the driver. Detours and geography are accounted for when predicting ETAs, as detours to charging points and uphill drives on curvy mountain roads take more charge and time.
The navigation system can also send a signal to the vehicle about the expected time of arrival at a charging station. In preparation, the car battery can start heating up to the most favorable temperature so the highest charge quality can be achieved.
Additionally, the system can ensure there are enough fast charging stations along the route for the vehicle to reach its final destination. The system will inform the driver if the trip is not possible to prevent a no-return scenario where the car battery doesn’t have enough juice to reach the next charging station.
The Intellias team’s major contributions
Our team implemented everything required for EV routing: navigation logic, features for displaying a vehicle’s range on the map and a possible range on the route, and functionality for automatically adding charging stops to make routes viable. This functionality is based on information on battery and energy consumption parameters. The system determines when recharging is needed based on the current charge, vehicle energy consumption model, and predicted consumption.
The EV navigation system we’re building consists of three core components:
- An integration with the car that provides necessary data for calculations and functionality
- Navigation logic for using this data to calculate reachability and display the vehicle’s range on a map or route
- Algorithms to make long routes possible by automatically adding charging points
There are two main KPIs that differentiate our client’s product and give end customers a competitive edge on the market:
- Quality of search
Along with a widely used option to search by area, our client’s solution uses complex algorithms (close to routing algorithms) to calculate the optimal route, providing drivers with high-quality search for charging stations.
- Speed of search
As users expect instant search experiences, one of our goals was achieving the fastest possible search to speed up trip planning.
One more benefit to the driver is a mobile companion application that communicates with the car, allowing them to check the battery charge and build a route with charging stations. As soon as the driver gets into the car, the app syncs with the vehicle’s navigation system and automatically updates the route.
Throughout our cooperation, the Intellias team has gone from extending our client’s team to taking full ownership of all their EV programs. Our client has delegated all project responsibilities to us: UI design of the human machine interface (HMI), project management, frontend and backend development, implementation, and quality assurance.
Intellias engineers are constantly improving the system’s algorithms as new edge cases come up during testing. We also perform regular on-site test drives where we come with a draft concept and turn it into a working product within a few days. During test drives, our goal is to get a feel for how the system operates from the driver’s perspective. We rework the code and fix issues — or even rebuild the whole algorithm — to ensure all functionality works as expected.
For each new program, we start with integrational workshops for our client’s customers to align our processes with those of the stakeholders who work on developing the whole spectrum of EV components, from hardware to infotainment systems. We then continue with regular workshops where all decision-makers come together to cast the vision, collect feedback, decide on ways to solve issues, and improve on the new product.
From the early stages of this project, Intellias has been empowering our client with capable engineering resources and years of experience. We’ve built several EV routing solutions from the ground up as well as remade and enriched a number of existing navigation functionalities. Our partnership has reinforced our client’s position as a global navigation enabler for leading automotive players.
Today, Intellias engineers act as our client’s trusted advisors. We’re involved in strategic decision-making and regularly bring new products into production. Recently, we’ve been tasked with a project previously done by another software vendor. Our goal is to revive that program, completely rebuild the functionality and algorithms, and turn it into a workable product.
Our team is constantly sharpening our understanding of customer and user expectations to enrich EV infotainment systems with useful functionality. We continue to perfect EV navigation systems for the driver’s convenience and to make our client’s products stand out on the market.
The solution we’re developing allows drivers to:
- Plan stops to recharge during long-distance trips without having to find charging stations themselves
- Receive information on how far and how long they can drive with the current battery charge
- Evaluate the maximum driving distance on the map based on a visualization of the road network
- Clearly see how far they can drive along each route
- Automatically add charging stations from online and offline databases to routes