Electric vehicles are the future, we are in the transitional phase.
“Volkswagen to spend $50 billion on electric car 'offensive'”
“Volkswagen betting their future on electric car”
“Hyundai/Kia is aware that after 2020, dedicated platforms for EVs are a must.”
"The Dutch government confirms plan to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030"
"German government investing 1 Billion Euro in private charging infrastructure"
"European Parliament binding carbon dioxide (CO2) emission targets for new passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles for 2025 and 2030 - reducing total CO2 emissions by 52% by a 2021 baseline and by 75-80% by a 2019 baseline" https://www.theicct.org/publications/ldv-co2-stds-eu-2030-update-jan2019
Unfortunately, the infrastructure is not ready for the inevitable advance of technology and this is where our vision and product comes into play.
What it does
AirElectric is the AirBnB for electric charging stations - connecting home owners' charging stations with the electric vehicles.
There are three possible solutions for a robust charging infrastructure in the future:
Centralized and concentrated charging points - specialized parking lots equiped with charging ports.
Centralized and distributed - provided by a municipality, electric companies, others entities.
Decentralized and distributed systems - a smart network of open and easily available (mostly private-owned) charging stations.
We envision the following problems with solutions 1 and 2: A concentrated network will create congestions in certain parts of the cities, it will put a lot of pressure on the electric grid in that particular node and it will cost a lot to build and increase the grid power in the locations of interest.
Solution number two will solve the problem with the grid capacity, but will be redundant to the already available charging solutions provided by the home or facility owners, who will have readily available power stations being unused. It will also be very cost-inefficient and will create monopoly on the pricing.
This is why we think that having a decentralized and distributed system, utilizing the already available charging stations, is the better, more ecological, smart and optimized solution.
We built this platform to help connect car owners with the charging station owners and optimize the cost and make charging of electric vehicles more efficient and convenient.
What are the benefits
Our solution provides the following additional opportunities to the owners of the charging stations:
Home owners with solar panels will benefit from our product, because they can make passive income while using the energy provided by the sun, which is usually untapped during the day. The electricity created by the solar panels is usually stored in large capacity batteries and then used in the house at evening or to charge the owner's car. Unfortunately, charging the car through the house battery is very ineffecient - there is a 10-15% DC to AC conversion loss when the electricity is being created and stored inside the battery and there is a further 10-15% cable transmission loss when the house battery is charging the car's battery resulting in a total 20-30% net loss. If we manage to tap into the energy while it is being created during the day, we can reduce that loss to below 10% and avoid the need of expensive house batteries.
Multi-tenant complexes could benefit from the platform, by providing charging stations and generating income for the tenants. This will also be beneficial to lower income resedentials, who could receive rent bonuses for providing a charging solution to the public.
Self-driving car service providers will have a large network of optimized and connected charging stations to choose from.
Sustainable Development Goal
We are submitting our project under SDG 9: Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation, but our solution is also applicable to SDGs 8, 11 and 13.
We decided to focus our attention on SDG 9, becasue we are building a smart and innovative infrastructure, which will be disrupting the traditional, centralized sector, while evolving the current transportation and energy distribution technologies with the goal to achieve more sustainable development and empowering a shared economy.
How we built it
We built our platform from the ground up. We started with React and React Native/Android to build the Android app and a web interface.
We split up the work across Messenger chatbot app development, Native app development and Web App development.
We also used the OpenChargeMap API for the list of charging stations, the pricing, the power and their availability near a user's location.
How Facebook tools helped us achieve our goal
Facebook is used as the middle platform to connect the charging stations to the electric vehicles.
Facebook will be providing support through their intelligent Messenger bots, will be responsible for the account creation and storage of personal information through the Account Kit and Social logins and will also handle the payment transactions.
Facebook also has access to granular and detailed datasets of the populational density, which will be beneficial in a machine-learning algorithm to optimize the platform (for example: direct the vehicles to unused charging stations, which will provide more cost-effective charging capabilities, while also minimizing the traffic)
We constructed our platform with data privacy in mind. Facebook will be the only entitiy with access to the profiles of the charging station owners and electric vehicle owners - neither the vehicle owner nor the charging station owner will have access to payment information or personal information of each other and Facebook will be handling the data according to standard data privacy practices.
Challenges we ran into
During development, we experienced challenges working NLP into our Messenger chatbot and persisting conversational session data in the Messenger App. For the latter problem, we spent time looking into whether or not Facebook had a solution within the Messenger API. After a few discussions with Facebook Engineers, it became clear that creating a connection to an outside data store would be our best solution. Due to the constraints of working in a small agile team, we made attempts at "hacking" implementations of NLP and persistent storage with each Messenger chatbot conversation. Implementing both of these features will allow us to bring personalized conversations to a charging station owner and power the User Experience.
During our work on the web application component, we had experienced issues parsing the JSON containing the charging station information provided by the OpenChargeMap-API which led to challenges using React to display Markers on a rendered Google Maps Map on a webpage.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We managed to create a semi-finished product within 2 days, deliver and release the app to the Play Store, as well as program and train a Messenger Bot, which uses real data from the OpenChargeMap API and the mobile app.
What we learned
We learned the ins and outs of the Messenger API including, but not limited to handling different user responses, connecting the chatbot to a server, triggering the Messenger app from the context of an Android device and passing in referral data to the messenger app.
We also learned how to deploy a mobile app to the Google Play Store.
What's next for AirElectric
PyTorch machine learning to optimize location charging based on the weather or electric grid capacity during different times of the day. Using the data gathered, we can power many cars without overloading particular parts of an electric grid while also providing more cost-effective solutions to the vehicle owners.
Connecting Charger APIs such as the wallbox from Go eCharger, which will enable full integration with the app through their webhooks. https://go-e.co/app/api.pdf
Utilizing facebook payments to provide users a secure and trusted platform to power their transactions.
Continuing to flesh out the React web interface to reflect the full functionality of the mobile app and then develop a version that is a Smart Car app once the API for industry leaders Tesla, Toyota, Kia, etc. are released.
With the Smart Car app, we would be able to connect autonomous cars to our Messenger chatbot to provide benefits to both smart car owner and charging station owner and automate the charging process (automated charging prototype video by Tesla) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMM0lRfX6YI