GM Can Manage an EV’s Batteries Wirelessly — and Remotely

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    An anonymous reader quotes a report: IEEE Spectrum got an exclusive look at General Motors’ wireless battery management system. It’s a first in any EV anywhere (not even Tesla has one). The wireless technology, created with Analog Devices, Inc., will be standard on a full range of GM EVs, with the company aiming for at least 1 million global sales by mid-decade. Those vehicles will be powered by GM’s proprietary Ultium batteries, produced at a new US $2.3 billion plant in Ohio, in partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem. Unlike today’s battery modules, which link up to an on-board management system through a tangle of orange wiring, GM’s system features RF antennas integrated on circuit boards. The antennas allow the transfer of data via a 2.4-gigahertz wireless protocol similar to Bluetooth but with lower power. Slave modules report back to an onboard master, sending measurements of cell voltages and other data. That onboard master can also talk through the cloud to GM. The upshot is cradle-to-grave monitoring of battery health and operation, including real-time data from drivers in wildly different climates or usage cases. That all-seeing capability includes vast inventories of batteries — even before workers install them in cars on assembly lines. GM can essentially plug-and-play battery modules for a vast range of EVs, including heavy-duty trucks and sleek performance cars, without having to redesign wiring harnesses or communications systems for each. That can help the company speed models to market and ensure the profitability that has eluded most EV makers. GM engineers and executives said they’ve driven the cost of Ultium batteries, with their nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum chemistry, below the $100 per kilowatt-hour mark — long a Holy Grail for battery development. And GM has vowed that it will turn a profit on every Ultium-powered car it makes. The system features end-to-end encryption and the software and battery nodes can be reprogrammed over-the-air. “Repurposing partially spent batteries also gets easier because there’s no need to overhaul the management system or fiddle with hard-to-recycle wiring,” the report adds. “Wireless packs can go straight into their new roles, typically as load-balancing workhorses for the grid.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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