The firm Spark EV Technology has partnered with the University of Essex in a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the aim of tackling a major hurdle hindering the adoption of electric vehicles.
The main two factors restricting mass Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption are considered to be range anxiety, where drivers worry about running out of charge before reaching their destination, and a lack of trust about the accuracy of existing in-car systems. These concerns seemingly stop people switching to electric vehicles, impacting air quality and the environment.
Spark’s AI-based technology is said to deliver personalised journey predictions that are more accurate than existing manufacturer systems. “The company’s AI algorithms learn with every journey, continually improving the accuracy of personalised predictions,” says a press release.
The KTP will look to further develop this technology thanks to leading expertise from University of Essex academics, increasing driver trust that they will be able to get to their destination without needing to recharge.
Dr Michael Fairbank, from the University of Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and the Academic Supervisor on the KTP project said: “Spark’s technology aims to make electric-vehicle batteries more predictable, and therefore make using electric cars more attractive. AI has the potential to offer significant commercial advantages to the technology sitting behind Spark’s current platform. We are excited by the opportunity to access significant AI ready data to advance the product and our own research, and at the same time help the UK increase its uptake of electric vehicles.”
To use the solution, drivers simply enter their proposed journey into their Spark-equipped SatNav or smartphone app, and receive personalised advice on whether they can complete the trip. This advice is based on live data, their personal driving style, urban/country routes, previous trips and charge point locations.
The embedded solution aims to tackle current EV technology that has proven poor in real world tests at estimating battery life, either significantly underestimating or overestimating the energy needed for a journey. Spark’s technology has been shown to be typically ten times more accurate in tests across a range of automotive manufacturers.
Justin Ott, Chief Executive Officer at Spark EV said: “The 18 month KTP project is a perfect opportunity for Spark to further develop its technology with University of Essex Academics working in the field of artificial intelligence.”
Justin said: “To develop this expertise Spark requires a collaborative venture with suitably qualified experts to add to its engineering team. Our partnership will accelerate our speed to market and deliver leading functionality in an affordable way, helping us increase market growth and technology independence.”
Spark’s technology has been recognised through a range of partnerships and selection for global start-up and accelerator programmes. These include the BP/RocketSpace Mobility Tech Innovation Collaborative programme, the Wayra/Transport Systems Catapult Intelligent Mobility Accelerator and the Cities Stream of the Creative Destruction Lab. Spark EV has received investment from New Anglia Capital and the Low Carbon Innovation Fund. It is currently raising a further funding round to support its growth.
Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex said: “This Innovate UK KTP has huge potential for our Academic research to have a positive impact on the environment, reducing emissions and improving air quality through the mass adoption of EVs.”
Robert said: “We are pleased to support Spark with the strategic advantage of being able to access the research base of a local UK university and are delighted to build on an already strong foundation to delivery this innovation.”
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme is a world-leading programme funded by Innovate UK that helps businesses innovate by connecting them to the UK’s wealth of academic resources. A carefully recruited KTP Associate will be based at Spark EV full-time and will work closely with Essex’s Academic team to manage the project.