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Matrix Charging: Novel, automated charging infrastructure for electric vehicles

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Matrix Charging (Matrix Charging: Novel, automated charging infrastructure for electric vehicles)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2020-12-31

Continuing growth of urbanisation and sprawl will increase the demand for individual mobility and the increase of traffic density will produce many adverse impacts that have direct effects on the quality of life for people living in cities. To lead Europe into a sustainable, efficient, and competitive future, novel innovations are essential especially in the transport sector. Vehicle electrification and autonomous driving are two promising new technologies that have disruptive potential for individual mobility whilst giving support towards an energy-efficient, decarbonised transport sector. Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) tend to meet high resistance primarily due to high cost, range limitations and long refuelling times thus slowing down the expansion of electro-mobility. Though these arguments may have been valid until the recent past, new battery and charging technologies are increasingly compensating for the disadvantages of EVs compared to those with internal combustion engine.
Matrix Charging automates the charging process, eliminating the need to manually connect and disconnect a cable, achieving a high level of operating convenience and thus creating the basis for autonomous driving. Compared to competing technologies, Matrix Charging offers decisive advantages in terms of charging performance, efficiency, manufacturing costs, as well as outdoor application and the possibility of installation in public spaces. Matrix Charging is barrier-free, weather-resistant, can be driven over and is therefore a key technology for the development of a comprehensive urban charging network as the basis for a successful transition to electromobility.
An area-wide automated charging network enables charging along the route chain during each parking stop. In this way, not only the range anxiety of e-mobility users can be eliminated but the whole charging behaviour will be revolutionized. A maximized connectivity time of EVs with the grid will facilitate the use of renewable energy and smart charging applications. In many cases a maximized connection time will even allow for a battery size reduction of EVs conserving economic and ecological resources.
• Automate electric vehicle (EV) charging by eliminating the manual process of plugging and unplugging a charging cable to make the charging process most convenient and prepare EVs for autonomous parking and driving.
• Revolutionize automated EV charging by being the first fully automated conductive charging technology that has most simple mechanics in the vehicle and no moving parts on the parking lot, allowing for a fast area wide automatic charging infrastructure rollout to facilitate the transition to a decarbonized transport sector.
• Address the challenges of EV charging with an innovative standardized solution that meets the requirements of all stakeholders, is suitable for all vehicle segments and is working in all environments: indoor and outdoor as well as private and public.
• Transform the charging behavior to an intermediate charging of vehicles along their route chain (picking up range at every stop) and therefore maximize the connectivity time of the vehicles to the grid. This will compensate for customer range requirements (reduction of range anxiety) and allow for more efficient, economical charging cycles and support the use of renewable energy and smart charging applications.
• Compared to the competitors deliver a more cost-effective automated charging solution with a higher transfer efficiency and greater charging performance.
There are three major trends changing mobility: the electrification of the vehicle powertrain, mobility as a service and autonomous driving. This forces OEMs to adapt their powertrain configurations and also requires extensive changes in charging infrastructure. The more autonomous electric vehicles get, the more important automated charging systems become. Easelink is about to close this missing link by developing Matrix Charging an automated charging solution for electric vehicles.
At the beginning of the project the product requirement specification document of Matrix Charging was finalized which also includes necessary international standards. With the successful assembly of the Matrix Charging prototype generation G3.2 pilot projects were performed in different testing environments as a basis for the further development. The subsequently developed generation G4 could be improved in terms of reliability, increased functionality, optimized manufacturing, and assembly. Generation G4 was used to run further testbenches and to extend the real environment pilots to generate relevant knowhow for the generation G5 design which could be successfully finished in 2020.
During the project and beyond, Easelink is participating in various standardization bodies for charging technology like International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) working towards the goal of setting a standard for automated charging. There are specific plans for standardization projects of Automated Connection Devices (ACD) from these two standardization organizations and the according committees have been formed in 2020. As a committee member Easelink actively shares know-how and test results from vehicles in operation with Matrix Charging.
Since the very beginning of the Matrix Charging development the establishment of a wide patent and trademark portfolio has been given high priority to protect the technology in the best way. This resulted in a broad intellectual property portfolio consisting of nine patent priority applications, one utility model application, six trademark application and two design applications.
Dissemination and commercialization
Easelink undertook several activities to transport the vision of automated charging in the form of Matrix Charging into the automotive world. Easelink’s networks are continuously being expanded and a strong position has been gained through pilot projects and public relation activities. The H2020 grants have made it possible to significantly advance the establishment of the cooperation with stakeholders. A sustainable network to large OEMs in Europe and China was initiated and further established. Tier 1 companies were addressed, and cooperation agreements were negotiated on an ongoing basis targeting the Matrix Charging series development and industrialization.
Easelink continuously expanded its communication publishing several press releases and contributing to publications in leading automotive magazines and books in course of the project. Above that Easelink attended major e-mobility events and conferences to present and demonstrate Matrix Charging to all relevant e-mobility players.
With Matrix Charging Easelink strives to enable automatic charging at every parking stop, completely unnoticed by the electric vehicle (EV) user. Matrix Charging not only prepares the charging process for autonomous driving, but also opens entirely new possibilities in the field of urban e-mobility and smart cities. From a macroeconomic point of view the approach of charging at any stop in many cases even allows for a smaller vehicle battery and therefore reduces weight, cost, and energy consumption of EVs. The anxiety of not having enough range will be reduced or even eliminated as the drivers of EVs do not need to think about the next charging opportunity.