If We Want Electric Autonomous Cars They’ll Need A Hell Of A Lot More Juice
by Alanis King (Jalopnik) 1st Gear: Surprise, Self-Driving Cars Need A Lot Of ‘Brain’ Power — Oh, you want an electric car that can also shuttle you around without you having to move a muscle? What do you think this is, magic fairy land? Turns out, battery- and computer-powered cars may not mix too well because autonomous driving technology needs so much power just to run. From Automotive News:
Some of today’s prototypes for fully autonomous systems consume 2 to 4 kilowatts of electricity — the equivalent of having 50 to 100 laptops continuously running in the trunk, according to BorgWarner Inc. The supplier of vehicle propulsion systems expects the first autonomous cars — likely robotaxis that are constantly on the road — will be too energy-hungry to run on battery power alone.
In an industry where the number of LEDs in a brake light are scrutinized for their impact on gas mileage, processing data from laser, radar and camera sensors will be an enormous challenge — not just for coders working on machine learning, but for engineers trying to power vehicles efficiently.
The vice president of BorgWarner, a parts supplier in the auto industry, told Automotive News that companies are constantly battling because governments push for percent improvements in fuel economy each year. Mix that in with power-sucking driverless technology, and you’ve got a recipe for fun! READ MORE
Another big challenge for autonomous car engineers: Energy efficiency (Automotive News)
Excerpt from Automotive News: The autonomous features on a Level 4 or 5 vehicle, which can operate without human intervention, devour so much power that it makes meeting fuel economy and carbon emissions targets 5 to 10 percent harder, according to Chris Thomas, BorgWarner’s chief technology officer.
To be sure, those calculations are based on prototype cars with sensors rigged on the roof, and the power demands of electronics inside the car will inevitably fall as the technology improves. But even if chip makers pull off promises to reduce power consumption by as much as 90 percent, automakers will still need to make fuel efficiency gains elsewhere in the vehicles to compensate for all that computing, Thomas said.
“They’re worried about one watt, and now you’re adding a couple thousand,” Thomas said. “It’s not trivial.”
One way for automakers to meet the power-hungry needs of self-driving systems will be to use gasoline-electric hybrid models rather than purely electric cars, said Mary Gustanski, chief technology officer of supplier Delphi Automotive’s powertrain business.
Sam Jaffe, founder of Cairn Energy Research Advisors, said hybrid-electric vehicles probably make sense for the first driverless cars, which are likely to be robotaxis.
“They’re going to favor plug-in hybrid EVs, and they’re going to require that extra gasoline engine, both to extend the range to be able to do a taxi type of duty cycle, but also to help mitigate the proportion of the autonomous systems on the battery pack itself,” said Jaffe, whose research and consulting firm specializes in energy storage. READ MORE