BMW & NTU Singapore Ganging Up On Electromobility Challenges

Electric vehicles are the future. Many large auto manufacturers either don’t seem to get it or are simply trying to postpone the future for as long as possible while they make money on their ICE vehicles. BMW, though, is one of the car companies most willing to call a spade a spade and dive into the future. In some of the latest news around this point, BMW Group has teamed up with Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) to advance EV (aka electromobility) science.

The combined gang battles research will occur at NTU Singapore’s Future Mobility Research Lab (“research lab,” riiight…). It will focus on “Electromobility in Asia” and “Smart Materials.”

BMW i3 Price $34,500

How much are BMW and NTU Singapore betting on themselves? S$1.3 million (US$965,000), which comes after S$5.5 million (US$4.1 million) was bet invested in 2013. So, it’s not pocket change, but it’s also not like they’re investing in Tesla or something.

The three topics initially being studied at the Future Mobility Research Lab include Advanced Batteries, Driver Enhancement, and Intelligent Mobility.

Here’s a bit more from BMW on what it and NTU Singapore are looking to delve into:

Electromobility in Asia

The main goal of embarking on the Electromobility in Asia project is to find out how drivers interact with BMW i vehicles in real life, so as to better understand user behaviours and to improve electric and plug-in hybrid technology for the future.

By conducting the research in Singapore, a densely-populated, urban city state, it will enable researchers in the joint lab to gain insights on how electric vehicles can be made more relevant for global megacities. Other study topics include how emerging technologies like fast charging, wireless charging and smart assistant driving technologies will impact the consumer.

Smart Materials

With today’s proliferation of touchscreen interfaces being used increasingly in vehicles, there is a need to study how these touchscreen surfaces can be made more tactile.

Through research in various shape memory materials and dielectric polymers, scientists will look at developing technologies which can enable buttons to appear on interactive surfaces and touch screens when needed.

And here’s a bit more from BMW on what the lab has accomplished so far:

  • Advanced Battery
  • New battery materials are being experimented on, such as high-voltage cathodes and anodes (the positive and negative poles of a battery), which can potentially double the energy density, which is important in extending the range of an electric car as well as enable faster charging times.
  • Driver Enhancement
  • Current sensor technologies are able to tell if a driver is sleepy or alert and if the vehicle is on a collision course with another vehicle, based on the speed and direction it is travelling. However, the sensor systems are independent of each other, and does not take into account the driver’s present condition and adjust to it.
  • A driver enhancement system is now being developed to adapt to the driver’s condition, to either increase or decrease the number of assistance technologies deployed to help the driver. It is based on parameters such as whether the driver is alert or sleepy, if he/she is paying attention to the road, and if traffic conditions around the vehicle is congested or sparse.
  • Intelligent Mobility
  • A mobile application has been developed which can better predict the traffic conditions and accurately estimate arrival time at the destination. This app is based on an intelligent routing system that calculates individual driving style and current traffic situation based on real-time traffic information. It also has a parking search system that analyses the parking situation around the destination.

Image by BMW

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