As the world transitions towards a more sustainable future, the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) with smart technologies becomes increasingly important. Wireless EV Charging (WEVC), coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT), holds immense potential to revolutionize how we charge and manage our electric/autonomous vehicles (EVs/AVs). The IoT can be used to provide real-time data that can be used to improve the efficiencies of production and distribution (of power, in this case). Due to the increased connectivity of EVs/AVs, IoT technology would enable a communication channel between vehicles of all types (including EVs/AVs) and the road and charging infrastructure.  In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating realm of smart integration between wireless EV charging and IoT and delve into the challenges and ongoing research efforts involved in deploying wireless charging infrastructure for the transportation sector.

The IoT Advantage:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of linking gadgets that interact and exchange data. The IoT has several advantages and use-cases when it comes to wireless EV charging. For example, it allows for real-time monitoring of driving and charging speed, overall mileage, acceleration behavior, battery management, fault alters, charging status, predictive maintenance, energy usage, efficiency levels, and billing data, irrespective of one using either wired or wireless charging technology.

In addition, the IoT can also be used to monitor the performance of electric vehicles in conjunction with wired or wireless charging and provide feedback to drivers to help them optimize their routes and usage. From a wireless charging perspective, one could remotely inspect or get directional assistance to get EV/AV (wireless power receiver – on-board charger) aligned with the wireless charger (transmitter – charger installed on the floor) to aid efficient charging using wireless connectivity i.e., IoT. Users may quickly check charging-related data remotely, get notifications, and even optimize the charging plans depending on power price (costs) and the circumstances of the grid via an IoT connection.

According to a McKinsey estimate, by 2025, IoT-enabled smart charging infrastructure for EVs is expected to release between US$3 billion and US$10 billion in value globally per year.

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Efficiency Enhancement:

The efficiency of wireless EV charging is very critical. Wireless chargers need to connect with the vehicles to optimize the charging process by exchanging data in real-time. This helps ensure that energy usage is optimized while minimizing waste. By leveraging IoT technology, wireless EV charging can be made more efficient and effective. The EV chargers, for example, may vary the charging rate based on the battery’s level of charge, ambient temperature, and even grid energy demand. This guarantees efficient charging and reduces energy losses. In addition to that one can determine the compatibility and interoperability of a wireless charging-enabled EV/AV with that of the available wireless charger (transmitter) and accordingly either facilitate or reject charging, as well as provide a sufficient level of power considering the capacity of the receiver and the transmitter, and the desired powering characteristics determined through the overall battery management system.

Fact: According to research done by the University of California, Riverside, IoT-enabled charging systems boost charging efficiency by up to 20% when compared to traditional charging methods. From Wired and Wireless Technology’s (WAWT) perspective this (use of IoT) also holds for other applications adopting wireless power.

Interoperability and Standardization:

Standardization and interoperability are critical for the broad use of wireless EV charging infrastructure. Industry-wide standards are being created to allow seamless integration of various wireless charging systems and EV/AV models. These standards make it easier for consumers/enterprises to wirelessly charge their vehicles at any wireless charging station, regardless of manufacturer or solution provider.

Fact: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) along with regional industry standards and regulatory bodies have actively worked together, finalized and published the wireless EV charging standards (SAE J2954 and IEC 61980) in 2020 to facilitate interoperability and wider use of wireless EV charging technology.

Challenges in Deploying Wireless Charging Solutions in Infrastructure:

Several problems need to be overcome for wireless charging technology to be widely adopted.

a. Efficiency Optimization: Research to improve the efficiency of wireless charging systems is continuing. Advancements are being made to reduce energy losses (increase efficiency) during the power transfer process and to improve the alignment between the wireless charging pad (transmitter) and the EV/AV (receiver).

b. Cost and scalability: During the current nascent stage of wireless charging technology, in addition to the expected high costs of the wireless power receiver and transmitter, the installation costs of wireless charging solutions appear to be greater than that of installing traditional cable (wired) chargers. However, continuous efforts are being made toward lowering cost prices, improving manufacturing processes, and increasing scalability. Here it is important to note that in the current state, wireless power is being considered as a complementary technology and not a competing or substitute technology as one would adopt it in addition to the wired form of charging.

c. Grid Integration: Integrating wireless charging with the current electrical grid presents issues in terms of energy management, load balancing, and demand response. While addressing the possible influence of large-scale wireless charging on the power infrastructure (wider grid), solutions are being developed to assure efficient grid integration. This is also vital when one would want to explore the possibilities of using Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) bi-directional charging scenarios. Integration between the smart grid and EVs can facilitate bi-directional communication between the EVs/AVs and the power grid as well as facilitate bi-directional charging (either from grid to vehicle or vehicle to grid). Please look out for our dedicated blog focusing on bi-directional technology-based V2G scenarios.

Fact: The Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program in the United States has invested over US$25 million in research projects focused on wireless charging technology, aiming to address efficiency and scalability challenges.

To summarize:

The smart and intelligent integration of wireless EV/AV charging (WEVC) technology with IoT technology has enormous potential to change the overall charging experience and aid in optimizing the use of energy. Despite efficiency, interoperability, and standardization problems, the current research and development activities are paving the way for a future in which wireless charging effortlessly interfaces with EVs/AVs, enabling seamless and efficient charging, real-time data monitoring, and grid integration including facilitating V2G possibilities. As technologies advance further, the integrated and collaborative use of wireless charging and IoT will be critical in developing a sustainable, smart, and intelligent transportation ecology.

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Wired and Wireless Technologies (WAWT), a strategic technology analyst and consultancy firm focusing on the wireless power and power supplies industry, considers all the above key aspects and many others, in its comprehensive research solution titled Wireless Power Intelligence Service, while estimating the current and future size of the wireless EV charging technology market. WAWT believes the integration of IoT and other related technology with wireless power will not only enable and boost the adoption of wireless power technology but also help consumers, establishments, and government bodies to monetize from the use of such technologies.