The Ministry of the Environment is a Cabinet-level ministry of the central government of Japan. It is responsible for domestic and global solid waste management, environment protection, pollution and nature conservation in hopes to change and revolutionize the mass production, consumption and waste production cycle of modern societies.
The Ministry of the Environment has been proactively promoting various domestic environmental protection plans and policies. While on transportation, it advocates for low- carbon technologies and policies. By combining renewable energy sources, it hopes to reduce transport carbon emissions and at the same time, up-lift the quality and utilization rate of public transports.
Under the same philosophy, the Ministry of the Environment worked with Road Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to develop and improve urban-rural areas’ public transportation infrastructure, starting with Kanagawa-ku, a city that has an aged but less dense population. Starting with Green Slow Mobility, a modified electric golf cart that uses rechargeable batteries and a charging station management system to replace buses that has a higher establishment cost, as the public’s new form of public transport.
With the ability to integrate multiple devices’ electrical data and present it on a human-machine interface dashboard, the Internet of Energy (IoE) company, NextDrive offered Atto Data Gateway as the project’s core data gateway. The dashboard offers a real- time view of golf cart batteries and charging station statuses to assist the Ministry of the Environment in connecting and creating a green urban-rural transportation network.
▲Atto Data Gateway
The project utilized HITACHI’s electric golf cart integrated by TST, rechargeable batteries provided by Taiwan’s bluetechono group and strategically placed charging stations as the cart’s source of power. But while the cars are on the road, how does one know the battery status? How does the driver know where the nearest charging station is at, plan a travel route and arrange charging time? These were the initial challenges with the project.
In this scenario, NextDrive’s Atto Data Gateway became the perfect solution.
Atto Data Gateway’s built-in RS-485 port can connect to bluetechno ‘s rechargeable battery to be seamlessly integrated into the battery management system (BMS), power meter, in-cart GPS sensor and the charging station information system. The Atto also acts as a data relay point, the built-in SIM card can upload cart’s battery, charging station and GPS positioning information in real-time via 4G/ LTE communication protocol onto the cloud. The collected information is then displayed on a web-based interface as the Green Slow Mobility cart’s battery monitoring system for the Ministry of the Environment.
▲Electric golf cart battery and charging station management system topology
The web-based interface for Green Slow Mobility is simple, clear and intuitive. Coupled with Google Map, the location of each charging station can be located. In addition to charging station locations, it also displays each cart’s battery information such as remaining battery capacity, voltage and current outputs. This data allows the driver and related personnel to grasp each cart’s system statuses so they can arrange maintenance schedules to charge or discharge the carts.
Electric Golf Cart Battery and Charging Station Management System Information Display
- Green Slow Mobility’s total battery capacity, single-cell voltage and total current
- Charging station status, output current and charging voltage
- Real-time location of Green Slow Mobility and charging stations on Google Map
▲Screenshot of Green Slow Mobility battery and charging station management system
This project is the first phase in establishing the complete system. Once the viability of devices and power-monitoring function integration into the battery management system has been verified, the Ministry of the Environment plans to go ahead with the second phase of the system in 2021; which is the mass production of power monitoring systems for electrical vehicles.
In the past, there are rare few electrical vehicle monitoring systems that have both GPS and energy monitoring functionality at the same time. Through NextDrive’s Atto intelligent gateway solution and network system, the Ministry of the Environment can verify the viability of Green Slow Mobility operations and monitor vehicles in real-time.
Through the project’s acquired system data, it provides the Ministry of the Environment with an in-depth analysis of electric vehicle’s status, battery life, etc. for future vehicle coordination references and to plan efficient travel routes. And it also serves as the basis for the second phase, the mass production of power monitoring systems which can include more people from different areas into the management system. It greens the transportation network between urban-rural areas, reduces energy wasting, and offer the people a convenient and environmentally friendly method of transport.
In addition to greening and intellectualizing the transport system, this project can also become an important foundation and building blocks for future energy developments.Utilizing the energy data collected by electric vehicles, automated energy distribution can hopefully one day be achieved through flexible energy storage and charging applications. The system monitoring data also act as empirical evidence in realizing the vast possibilities for future virtual power plants (VPP) in order to serve the well-being of the environment and society.