Aussie tech aids world-first electric bike trek

Two electric touring bikes have been fitted with V2X from Adelaide-based company Cohda Wireless

The STORM Wave bike

The STORM Wave bike

Australian technology is aboard two electric motorbikes that are part of a world-first circumnavigation attempt.

The STORM Wave bikes, developed by students from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, have been fitted with V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) systems from Adelaide-based Cohda Wireless.

The technology will allow the bikes to send data to each other and the convoy of support vehicles joining them, as they cover 26,000 miles of road on an 80-day trip.

The V2X systems will communicate real-time telemetry and, where supported, receive information about traffic levels and road conditions.

"They're going to be monitoring the performance across the whole 80 days,” explains Cohda CEO Paul Gray, “all the standard data you might get from a vehicle such as brake status and position and direction and all those sort of cool logs, but being an electric vehicle they'll also be monitoring the remaining charge and how quickly the battery is going down.

“Our units allow real-time communication to ensure the motorbikes perform according to design and meet the demanding schedule”

The bikes have a top speed of 160 km/h and can travel 380 kilometres before requiring a recharge. Each carries 24 swappable, modular battery cartridges which store 28.5 kWh of energy and can be swapped out within seven minutes. So far the team have been charging from wall-sockets in the lodgings they’ve been staying at along the route.

Cohda's units each incorporate dual IEEE 802.11 radios and a GNSS positioning system.

The tour began in Eindhoven last Sunday, taking a route down to Turkey before leaving Europe via Central Asia and then crossing into North America.

Blogging from Sofia, Bulgaria, rider Laurens Kusters said: “Wave proved herself once more. Not only did it survive the day, we exhausted ourselves before exhausting its batteries. By the time we had to swap the first pack, we already changed most of our pilot drivers and the rider.”

No stopping

When the bikes reach Shanghai, they will be able to receive information from roadside units which are being trialled by Tongji University.

The units, which are fitted to traffic lights and lampposts, will allow the bikes to receive information as well as sending it, explains Gray.

"That will be a location where the bike will be able to communicate with the infrastructure, which will mean firstly that the support vehicle won't need to be in range of them to access the telemetry. You can also get a lot of other useful real-time information to the bike such as signal phase and timing."

The signal phasing feature allows the rider to know to lower his speed to time his passing through the next set of lights.

"Continue to drive at 60kmh and stop at the red," explains Gray, "or drop your speed down to 50kmh and by the time you get to the lights they'll turn green and you'll be able to sail through. That's important to maximising the range in electric vehicles. It's the stopping and speeding up from a stop that chews up a lot of power. You can really maximise your range by making use of things like that."

Given the green light

V2X technology is set to become a standard feature of vehicles in the future, accelerated by the arrival of connected autonomous vehicles. Gray predicts that the technology will be mandated for inclusion in new US-built vehicles in next few years.

In Australia, Cohda is running a project with the NSW Government in which 110 trucks will be fitted with their technology so the vehicles can communicate with traffic signals along key freight corridors. When a heavy goods vehicle approaches a green traffic light, the system can ‘provide more green time’ or change to green to avoid a timely stop and start. Announcing the project in April, the state’s Minister for Roads Duncan Gay noted the technology could be extended to emergency vehicles and buses.

Gray predicts that within five years, all vehicles will be connected as standard.

“The term being used now is Connected Autonomous Vehicle — the idea that you not only have sensors on board the vehicle but you have all the vehicles talking to each other and talking to infrastructure so you can really maximise the benefits you can get from autonomous vehicles.”

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