While the numbers of buyers considering an EV is on the rise – in fact, it went up four times across segments – in FY22 – one of the key aspects that is hugely dependent on the research and development team is EV design.
This is an area that companies are increasingly leveraging technologies such as simulation, artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud and machine learning.
With its MATLAB and Simulink software, MathWorks, based in Bengaluru, has helped engineering teams to design and simulate the manufacturing of vehicles, battery management systems, and more. It is also possible to use technologies such as Deep Learning for estimation of the battery state-of Charge (SoC), which is one of the main challenges for designers of battery systems.
In an interaction with Autocar Professional, R Vijayalayan, Manager, Automotive industry and control design vertical application engineering teams, MathWorks India said, “We are ready to support the needs of industry, be it ICE or EV. Our aim is to provide a virtual vehicle twin. The reference application we have for EVs, hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells have been increased and we are providing for engineering teams to reduce the barrier in making a vehicle.”
As Vijayalayan puts it, there is a big push for the demand of electrification technology. The company has also seen a major increase in the number of EV startups. “Electrification is seeing significant investments being made by companies that are keen to offer a unique proposition and deliver a product. The ecosystem is also expanding as it is no longer about vehicle development but players also those who are in last mile connectivity, service provider etc,” he added. “As a software provider, MathWorks wants to add more value to both consumers and developers,” said Vijayalayan.
Shifting from ICE
Vijayalayan is clear about the fact that “we cannot completely take out all the ICE vehicles on the roads and replace them with ICE”. He is categorical that the shift has to be pragmatic and in an incremental way. “Even in ICE vehicles, OEMs are trying to move towards zero emission vehicles and they have reduced the emission with the shift from BSIV to BSVI. Overall, everything is driven by climate change,” he added.
“Electrification throws a different challenge. To launch an EV, we need to motivate the workforce and it is also a multi-domain engineering problem comprising thermal engineering, power electronics, software and more. Today with EV and automated systems, vehicles are becoming computer on wheels. There are multiple problems and it is important to cater to these,” he said.
This is where, as Vijayalayan says, simulation helps the engineers in these tough situations. He continues that the question is whether to develop a product every time or reuse the work that has been there. “The software modules for ICE and EVs can be reused. This is where Simulink comes into play allowing engineers to design once and reuse the module multiple times,” Vijayalayan explained.
MathWorks is not just helping engineers in making an EV, but can also be used in developing charging grids, smart grids and so the “boundaries are expanding,” he states. “The electrification push is there and we see acceptance is also growing. The challenge is how do they differentiate and how quickly they conceptualise their products whether it be a component supplier, tier I supplier or battery maker as “we look at simulation at multiple levels”.
Vijayalayan explains that MathWorks can model the battery which can then be used to study the battery and its health, both cell and battery wise. There are multiple libraries which are essentially repositories of solutions that OEMs can quickly simulate and so not require a physical prototype.
Reference for the designers
Vijayalayan further explains that simulation always depends on the engineer. “Mathematically I can do a number of combinations,” he says.
“The problem is sometimes we have five different prototypes of design within which we have to choose. What we are doing is providing the library that the OEMs and engineers can create a lot of options. The company can create their own library,” he added. He states that this is a continuous journey and it will constantly keep evolving. To ensure this keeps constantly getting developed, MathWorks constantly upgrades its powertrain blockset, motor control blockset etc. More references have been added including for hybrids and electric vehicles.
“Software is the main piece an one has to constantly add features around to improve the quality. The references can be re-used later. This is the important part, and the RoI is maxed out. The model allows you to build variants and it all depends on the end user. The engineers or the design team can define the end goal. Today, we have the power of scaling the simulation and leveraging the power of the cloud to complete in a shorter time. That is the opportunity we see in scaling up. It should have the infrastructural tools to run the scenarios that are not humanly possible,” he said. Finally, be it an EV or ICE or any component, making it realistic and more accurate is where the biggest challenge lies. Modelling is an art and making it more accurate is where the engineering skill and expertise come in,” says Vijayalayan.
MathWorks is constantly looking at upskilling all its competency development. It is also making efforts in mobility workforce upskilling. “We as an organisation are moving towards being more agile. Continuous integration, shorter release cycles etc., demand continuous certification of models, and it is our endeavour to try to make it more safe and secure. The bigger opportunities are around AI and her Vijayalayan says the key issues is how to develop the right product and “ we see more need in terms of digital twins”. This happens in EVs and batteries too,” he signed off.