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Better Place Demonstrates Battery Switch Technology

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Demo vehicle moving into position for battery switch. Click image to see demonstration video.

Better Place officially opened the Yokohama, Japan EV exhibit with the public debut of its automated battery switch system, designed to make long distance travel by EV convenient for customers.

Better Place selected the Nissan Dualis to demonstrate the battery switch technology. This crossover utility vehicle is not necessarily indicative as to any potential EV lineup by Nissan. The technology demonstration used specially-built 400V battery packs with standard lithium-ion cells from A123Systems. The cells were inserted into an enclosure built to fit this specific Nissan Dualis vehicle application.

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Top view of a fully-charged battery moving up for insertion into the vehicle bay. Click to enlarge.

The Better Place automated battery switch replaces a depleted EV battery with a fully charged one in just a few minutes, allowing consumers to drive their EVs on long distance trips without actually recharging en route. The technology, which includes the mechanisms for the switch and the control system, is part of an overall solution for EVs that includes an open network of charge spots deployed widely where cars park.

The switch technology was designed and developed by the Better Place Research and Development (R&D) organization, taking advantage of many proven technologies from the automotive and aerospace industries. Better Place is investing significant R&D funding in development of this technology as a core component of the company’s overall infrastructure for EVs.

The switch technology uses an automated track system that runs two robotic battery shuttles. One lowers the depleted battery from the vehicle using a simple hydraulic scissors lift, and then the other inserts the fully charged battery into the vehicle using another lift. The battery shuttles are designed to work with a wide variety of battery enclosure sizes and shapes for universal application to a range of EVs.

The lift platform doesn’t actually touch the car, said Better Place CEO Shai Agassi during the press conference. When releasing a battery, the car and battery separate themselves, and then, when inserting a new battery, the latching mechanism brings the car to the battery and the battery to the car. The battery does not need to be perfectly aligned with the vehicle bay at the beginning of the operation. During this insertion action, the electrical connection is established as well.

The latching mechanism has been tested to 25G, said Agassi.

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The battery pack, with vehicle connector. Click to enlarge. The vehicle connector. Click to enlarge.

The switch is controlled by three computers: one onboard the vehicle, one in the station, and one in the battery pack.

The switching process occurs while the driver remains in the vehicle, uses a number of integrated safety systems, and takes less than 80 seconds once the EV is in position.

Since the latching mechanism that secures the battery is based on a common principle used in the aerospace industry, the battery latches are original equipment manufacturer-grade for engineering quality, reliability and durability standards. The switch technology featured in the demonstration will be further developed into production for the commercial battery switch stations that Better Place intends to deploy in markets around the world.

Sharp Corp. provided the solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at the demonstration site in Yokohama. The system provides all the electric power needed to recharge the batteries used in the demonstration via the Better Place charge spots deployed at the site. The PV system helps demonstrate the role renewable energy plays as part of the Better Place solution.

The Yokohama exhibit is part of a six-month feasibility study by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in Japan. Japan wants half of all new vehicles sold in Japan to be electric by 2020.

Comments

ai_vin

"Are you sure there IS a problem?"

Well that's my point; there ISN'T a problem. This is just one of those false arguements that the nay-sayers came up with.

wintermane2000

As someone who was nearly totaly blind for a good while and still cant see well at all I must say its no myth.

I almost got pancaked by a freaking suv because it was too quiet and was in my blindspot as I started to walk across the street. If I could have seen out of both eyes I might have seen it comming but as it was the only thing that kept me from going splat was blind luck.

The real bad part was I didnt realy understand how bad my "good" eye was until then.

Alot of people dont know just what they arnt seeing until SPLAT.

Arne

ai_vin:

I see, didn't understand it from your post. Thanks for the clarification....

wintermane2000:

I do try to keep in mind that my Prius is silent when in EV mode, I'll try to do that even more.

On the other hand, silent cars are also seen as a positive development because it means less traffic noise. Where I live the government tries to stimulate silent tyres on cars (above a certain speed most traffic noise is caused by the tyres). So I think the move towards quieter cars is inevitable and we'll have to find other means to help the visually impaired.

kelly

The many comments are encouraging, yet I don't follow the nit-picking('too quiet'?, might have smaller trunk,..). With this logic, people junk their cars because there's mud on them.

The article is about BP demonstrating another step in a way around oil greed, terror, pollution, war, etc., besides being less expensive per mile transportation.

Jim

Anne,

Pedestrian Safety Act of 2009.

Perhaps you should take 15 seconds to check something before taking the minute to accuse someone of false information....

If John Kerry and Arlen Spector are writing bills about it, then its officially a 'problem', whether merited or not.

Jim

A Project Better Place approach vs. a PHEV approach is basically a technology question.

PBP basically is betting that batteries suck and will always suck.

PHEVs are betting that batteries will get a little bit better.

EVs are betting that batteries will get a WHOLE lot better.

The wheel is still spinning, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

Arne

Jim,

Sorry, I didn't intend to accuse anyone.

I am not an American, so I am not aware of the Pedestrian safety Act 2009.

wintermane2000

To get an idea of the scope of the problem just get earplugs and stand at a street corner and try and keep track of cars.

ai_vin

"As someone who was nearly totaly blind for a good while and still cant see well..."

You too?
I developed cataracts as a kid and had to wait until I was older to have the operations - one didn't go well.

HarveyD

Battery swap can only be justified when quick charge batteries are not available. Within 5-6 years, battery packs will be rechargeable in 5 to 6 minutes and battery swap will become old technology.

However, there's a lot to be said about a small on-board genset for extended trips, to get by in long traffic jams and to make it to the closest quick charge station. That would be my personal choice until affordable quick charge 50++ Kwh battery packs are common place.

More and more people (the majority among younger people) rent their car instead of buying them. Renting the battery pack (various sizes) could be a favourable option.

Reel$$

This idea is right up there with the electric fork, the Edsel, and New Coke. Why go to the hassle of finding a Better Place when you're driving a full EV (Tesla) or a EREV?

An idea without a buyer.

Reel$$

"That brings up a key marketing point. Do people want to own cars, or just have transportation? Personal transportation seems to be the idea, but owning a car is rooted in our culture."

Some people want to "own" other people. Some want to own cars. Which is the greater evil?

kelly

Better Place: 14 cents/mile.

Tesla: $108,000 - talk about "An idea without a buyer."

Herm

Kelly, where did you get that 14 cent/mile figure for BP?

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