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Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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« Intelligent Buildings talk to Smart Energy | Smart Cars at Home on the Smart Grid »
Monday
May252009

Smart Cars At Loose on the Smart Grid

I have written before of the challenges of software for electric cars at home (Smart Cars at Home on the Grid). Today I want to expand the domain of those cars into the wider world. The minimal car software will have some way to make electronic purchases as it drives across the town and the country. The better car software will do much more.

The electric car may recharge while on the road. It can also re-sell power when on the road. How it decides to do this must first be based upon what the car is doing. If I am driving to the beach, a drive of several hours me, then I am not interested in accepting any offers to buy my stored power when I stop for a Bo’s biscuit en route. My car needs to know and understand my travel plans.

Cars will certainly have fast charge as well as slow charge options. Unless in the dead of night, fast charge is likely to be considerably more expensive than a slow charge. Not all locations will offer fast charges. Not all locations will be connected to the grid. Not all locations will offer the same kinds of power. As a car drives from home to work to the public parking lot to the mall, as its driver visits friends and family, then the power market rules, billing, and security change.

The car’s energy management system (EMS) may well integrate with the car’s geographic positioning system (GPS). Today’s GPS can already tell you where the nearest gas station is, and the prices at many of them. Tomorrow’s car-based GPS should find stations for re-charging, including the location of the green re-charge, the fast re-charge, all factored by the remaining charge in the vehicle battery.

Too much time, and too much energy is spent on standards for portability of car identity. Current market rules prohibit resale of electricity by non-utilities. This market rule creates all sorts of complexity and rooms full of technologists and executives discuss how to make the charges from plugging in your car away from home go back to your home energy bill. This causes too much complexity. It breaks one of the oldest household transportation rules, that the teen pays for her own gas. It adds complexity on top of the more important life-style and service issues discussed above.

Even at home, the smart electric car will need a wider intelligence. The car may benefit from accessing weather predictions. Weather is the best predictor for predictor for tomorrow’s energy prices. Weather information is the best way to predict whether solar or wind power will be available tomorrow. Weather may be the best way to predict, in this household, a spontaneous desire to drive to the beach.

Wherever it goes, wherever it plugs in, the smart electrical car will be exposing itself to strange networks, with uncertain security. If the car manages its own charging identity, then it will need to protect its identity, shielding it except from the charge processing entity. The car will need to defend itself from strangers, while allowing extended family to re-program. The car must be able to request and accept software updates while defending itself, and its own system integrity.

Within the car, the car’s user management and credential management systems must be unable to take over the cars control system. The best cars designers are already moving to service oriented architectures within the car. This will make the move to defense in depth within the car simpler.

Dumb electric cars will be just tolerable. Good electric cars will engage the wider world as well as the home of the car owner. Software and information will be at the core.

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