At Uber Elevate Summit 2018, Celina Mikolajcak, Uber‘s Director of Engineering, Energy Storage Systems, and Alan Dowdell, VP of Business Development, ChargePoint Discussed eVTOL Energy Systems in an interview with TransportUP.
ChargePoint and Uber are partners on the UberAIR initiative, where ChargePoint intends on supplying charging infrastructure and connectors for Uber’s aircraft that will rapidly recharge UberAIR vehicles between flights.
The discussion focused on the potential to scale common connectors for electric vehicles, the advantages of particular battery cell arrangements, and the unique position that ChargePoint is in to help guide the path of future large scale electric vehicle (not just eVTOL) charging systems.
Here are some of the most notable conversation snippets:
- On battery pack cell arrangement and cooling: “A lot of people have tried air cooling but it’s not very effective – cells have a fair bit of thermal mass to them so really high performance packs will tend to be liquid cooled, they’ll have some form of cooling tube” stated Mikolajcak. “Another way to do this is to break the entire pack into separate smaller ones with battery management systems [BMS]; because you break the problem down so you’re able to keep that segment uniform” added Dowdell.
- Dowdell on ChargePoint’s influence in the electric vehicle industry: “What we wanted to do is start with this conference is start with the eVTOL’s and then engage with the semi-truck manufacturers because there is diversity in engineering designs today and we’re super thrilled with what’s happening here…people are saying “hey, have you thought about this”” sort of feedback. This is engineering, so there’s not going to be a common answer, but to the extent that we can get people on a common platform that can be lower cost, that can be approved quickly by the relevant authorities…how efficient would it be if there was only one standard, you had to prove that one standard and also knowing that if the FAA approves it, then the EASA standard might go easier”.
- On scaling the electric vehicle industry with a common platform: “We manufactured our high speed DC cable charger so that it has three different cable types, so that in the weird case where you’ve got Australia has Type 1 (form North America) and Type 2 (from European cars) so you end up with this weird situation, …equipment has to go through 3 different certification standards, so its more work for them. I’m really careful not to use the word standard because the Standards Boards do need to step up at some point but wouldn’t it be great if there was industry momentum that coalesced around a common platform and then makes the standards guys job a lot easier.”
Why it’s important: The partnership between ChargePoint and Uber is another example of a key partnership advancing research in areas of technology that have a far broader range of applicability than just the eVTOL community – as Dowdell stated during the interview, the scalability of ChargePoint’s connector is primed for electric commercial truck transports, and possible other applications as well. Finally, ChargePoint is pushing for common standards across application (aerospace or vehicular) to increase the economic upside of connectors and further the acceptance of commonality between regulatory boards.
Be sure to visit TransportUP’s recap of Day 1 at the Uber Elevate Summit 2018 and stay tuned for Day 2’s recap and a summary of the entire conference.