Drive4Data helps Waterloo researchers track real-world driving habits of electric car drivers. Engineers will use data to design the electric car of the future.
A wireless "data logger" planted in electric cars will give University of Waterloo researchers the information they need to build and support the electric car of the future.
"The University of Waterloo probably has the largest number of faculty doing automotive research in Canada. A large number of researchers will benefit from this data," says Roydon Fraser, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering,
Fraser says the device, which is about half the size of a cell phone, will collect information about mileage, battery charging and energy use. As one of the researchers behind Drive4Data, Fraser wants to understand how people drive their electric cars so more economical and appealing vehicles can be developed.
"People want to have the most economical car they can, and money speaks," says Fraser. "They want to save money." A vehicle can run on electricity 3 to 7 times more cheaply than it runs on gasoline, says Fraser.
Participants can sign up when they buy their electronic vehicles at several Waterloo-area dealerships. In exchange, they will receive reports that provide insight into their own driving patterns.
Analyzing driving habits of these sample populations can help researchers predict the types of electric vehicles and hybrids that will be most in demand for different user groups.
For instance, purely electric vehicles that rely solely on batteries might be more efficient when going short distances, but those with smaller batteries and larger gas tanks might be better for highway driving.
Knowing where motorists typically drive will also help utilities, currently among the most interested parties when it comes to electric cars, figure out where to set up charging stations.