On Electronics: Extending EV Range; Radar and Camera in a Complete Package; Improving Infrared Cameras

Columns From: 1/26/2012 Automotive Design & Production

Extending EV Range“Range anxiety,” or concern that electric vehicles (EVs) don’t pack enough power to get drivers everywhere they need to go in one charge, remains an issue.

Thanks to a metal oxide cathode rather than one based on graphite, this lithium-ion battery offers 35% greater range for electric vehicles.

Delphi’s RACam combines radar and vision sensing in a compact single-box system.

Extending EV Range

“Range anxiety,” or concern that electric vehicles (EVs) don’t pack enough power to get drivers everywhere they need to go in one charge, remains an issue. However, this could change thanks to the development of a new battery that offers 35% more range than existing technologies. The battery achieves this by integrating lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells with metal oxides to offer greater energy density, and thereby greater range. The battery is a result of work performed by battery supplier Axeon, engineering services firm Ricardo, and special-purpose vehicle builder Allied Vehicles.

While most Li-ion battery cells feature graphite cathodes, this battery uses cathodes composed of nickel, cobalt and manganese. The engineers packaged the cells into pouch-like modular blocks, a design that reduces cell-level volume by 50% and mass by 30% compared to conventional batteries.


Radar and Camera in a Compact Package

A driver-assistance module that integrates radar and vision sensing to provide active safety features such as forward collision warning, adaptive headlight control and autono-mous braking has been developed by Delphi (delphi.com). This module, the RACam, is a single-box system that is
small enough (123 x 68 x 38-mm) to be installed on the forward-facing side of a vehicle’s rearview mirror. What’s more, Delphi says it’s cheaper than conventional radar and vision systems, which are typically offered separately. The RACam is expected to launch in 2014.


Improving Infrared Cameras

Although night-vision cameras are currently only offered on select premium vehicles, they’re expected to become more widespread as automakers look to enhance driver perception in dark and poor weather conditions. Northwestern University’s Center for Quantum Devices (cqd.eecs.northwestern.edu) may have a hand in this: its scientists have developed a next-generation camera that can be tuned to simultaneously absorb a range of infrared wavelengths and infrared bands.

Today, the two types of commonly used infrared cameras are passive systems, which capture thermal radiation emitted by objects, and active systems, which use an infrared light source to provide high-resolution images of objects. Center for Quantum Devices director Manijeh Razeghi says that by absorbing infrared wavelengths and bands, their camera offers the benefits of both active and passive systems. Additionally, he says the camera features longer range detection and improved sensitivity for better overall performance.