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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


MaaS: New Tech Challenges Jon Gabay

(Source: AA+W - stock.adobe.com)

Transforming our traditional society to one that employs Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a significant task. When personal vehicles are eliminated in favor of ride-shared technologies, traffic, emissions, and even vehicle costs may decrease. However, pushback can occur because the right to transportation law allows us to select our transportation modes.

It was once said that starting an engine wasted more fuel and created more emissions than an idling vehicle. That has changed, especially with the technological prowess we have today. Modern cars don't just have a timing mark to indicate top dead center on cylinder 1. They have cam and crankshaft position sensors that indicate accurate angular position sensing.

Electronically controlled fuel injection systems can only deliver a spurt of fuel into the cylinder at top dead center or beyond. Since ignition spark is no longer magneto or distributor cap controlled, the same car computer can ignite that spurt of fuel and, very efficiently and cleanly, get that old motor turning again.

More than Starting and Stopping

Engine restart is only an issue with gas cars. The shift to electric self-driving vehicles is a significant part of MaaS proposals. A higher level of autonomy means constant connectivity to the internet and GPS (and an extensive array of sensors).

Many cars already have radar and video-based collision avoidance systems, and they seem to play well together. More accurate GPS technologies, like Ultra-Wideband (UWB), will provide the centimeter resolutions needed to make autonomy safer.

With more responsibility placed on web-based information, cars now join the myriad of IoT devices monitored and controlled by cloud-based services and sites. IoT traffic devices include traffic lights, railroad crossings, lane closures, draw bridges, traffic sensors, speed sensors, cell phone transponders, E-Z pass transponders, RFID readers, facial recognition systems, biohazard sensors, radiation sensors, and more.

Rapid charging and widely deployed charging stations still need to be addressed. MaaS aims to eliminate all internal combustion engines, making all cars, trucks, buses, and delivery vans electric-only. This requires building reliable, fast, and clean charging stations, relying heavily on battery technology.

Battery Technology Options for MaaS

Despite not being the ideal choice, lithium-ion remains the industry standard. Lithium tech is dirty, expensive, dangerous, and not easily reclaimed. There are sounder battery technologies, and we need to find and use them.

Cleaner batteries are on the horizon. Air batteries promise higher energy densities than Lithium and use lower-cost, readily available metals. Sodium, graphene, and even hemp are viable substitutes. As more renewable energy is deployed, clean sources of power will be available for the large number of new charging stations needed to replace the internal combustion engine. Solar, wind, and geothermal technologies are being explored as alternatives to aged and dirty energy generation sources.

Conclusion

MaaS wants to eliminate internal combustion engines and reduce the number of privately owned vehicles. There are many environmental benefits to this idea if done right. We are at a point now where we can solve the tech problems efficiently. The first-place experts are starting is at the battery level, so we can rely on fast and clean power to bring MaaS even further into the future.



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After completing his studies in electrical engineering, Jon Gabay has worked with defense, commercial, industrial, consumer, energy, and medical companies as a design engineer, firmware coder, system designer, research scientist, and product developer. As an alternative energy researcher and inventor, he has been involved with automation technology since he founded and ran Dedicated Devices Corp. up until 2004. Since then, he has been doing research and development, writing articles, and developing technologies for next-generation engineers and students.


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