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Ford using big data to determine the best spots to deploy rapid EV charging points

Ford has come up with a concept that uses big data to identify the most beneficial places to locate new rapid-charging points. Data scientists at the company have developed an algorithm, based on more than 1 million kilometres of driving data and including where vehicles actually stopped, to pinpoint the places that could help drivers integrate charging within their operating patterns, rather than making special journeys to out-of-the way locations.

Following in-depth analysis in Greater London, the team concluded that it would be possible to significantly improve access to on-the-go charging through deploying a relatively small number of strategically positioned rapid-charging stations.

“Being able to harness, analyse and leverage the huge amounts of data that is available through existing vehicle use can make a real difference to how easy we find it to get about in the cities of the future,” said John Scott, project lead, City Data Solutions, Ford Mobility. “We at Ford are committed to delivering smart vehicles for a smart world – including electric vehicles that will contribute to cleaner, quieter towns and cities. But we also want to try to use data to help improve investment efficiency into the necessary infrastructure to support that approach.”

As part of its far-reaching ‘Ford City Data Solutions Report’, published in December 2018, Ford fitted 160 connected vans with a simple plug-in device to record journey data. With the consent of participants, this generated more than 500 million data points, from more than 15,000 days of vehicle use, that was sent to the cloud for analysis.

It was from this data, captured over an eight-month period, that Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team were able to identify where charging points would be most useful to a fleet. Although the vehicles in the trial were not electric, it was possible to understand their operation and forecast their ability to access charge points as if they were.

By seeing where vehicles travelled, where they parked and for how long, they could identify ways in which charging could be integrated within regular journeys, especially for businesses whose drivers might make multiple stops, for example, to make deliveries. It is an approach that Ford envisages could be extended to further cities, the data coming from connected vehicles, and enabling those cities to more effectively plan how to spend their infrastructure budget.

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