Around the world in 80 days by electric motorcycle – part 2 – M2M communication

By | 4 minute read | October 22, 2016

leadspace image of storm electric motorcycle

“Show the world what electric vehicles can do” is the challenge that has been taken up by a team of 23 students from the Eindhoven University of Technology. They currently tour around the world with their self-built electric motors, for a total of 40.000 kilometers in only 80 days. The electric touring motorcycle, christened “STORM Wave”, made it beyond the drawing board by adopting a ‘fail fast, learn rapidly’ approach in just two years time. This resulted in a groundbreaking IoT proof of concept, that demonstrates the feasibility of environmentally friendly vehicles, without compromising on performance.

stormpulse electric motorcylce in the hills enabled with m2m communicationOn the road with the M2M connected electric motorcycle

With the contributions of STORM’s business partners, an extensive IoT ecosystem generates data that can be translated to research insights, which help stimulate future innovations in the automotive industry and beyond. The STORM team finally took off August 14 and is currently reporting live from a distant place in the world. In this series, business partners elaborate on how they experienced this research project thus far. Earlier this month, NXP shared their contribution to this promising IoT story, today we hear KPN´s share. The project was also supported by TomTom, Itility and The Weather Company, an IBM Business, who will be featured in forthcoming blog posts in this series.

M2M communications

Only until last November, Daan Boersma, account manager IoT at KPN, found out about the STORM project. And to his surprise, the motors weren’t connected to the internet yet. Several contacts later, he tracked down the project team and spotted the excellent opportunity for KPN to engage in the project, as it recently established a new department which solely focused on the Internet of Things. By contributing hardware and SIM cards that are placed in the motors to enable the vehicles to connect to other devices, STORM turned out to be the paragon of what KPN’s M2M (machine-to-machine) communications- and connectivity solutions was aiming for. Additionally, the project fitted KPN’s objectives to contribute to a sustainable world. The partnership deal was signed during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Staying connected on the road

With KPN devices being placed at the motors’ CAN-buses, each motor contains a M2M SIM card that gives insight in battery capacity, driving speed and location. These SIM cards form a high-quality separated network, and ensure the security of rapidly transmitted information while being able to withstand the heat in the motor. KPN also provided the students with ten mobile SIM cards, to enable them to connect to the world when no Wi-Fi is available. The students are pleased with the company’s contributions, according to Maartje Verhoek, External Relations at STORM: ‘’Thanks to KPN’s 3G network we are able to update our social media followers constantly, which is a crucial aspect of gaining visibility for STORM. Also, KPN technology allows the public to track and monitor the motor real-time.’’

Extending capabilities – tyre pressures and route conditions

Daan Boersma mentions that KPN learned that time was a major factor that impacted their contribution to the project. If they were granted several more months they would have been able to extend the IoT network even further with their high-end technology solutions: “Maybe there were more possibilities for KPN concerning the gathering and transmitting of data during the trip, but this would require more time than there was available. For an eventual STORM successor, we would consider additional possibilities, like informing the supplier about the tire pressure throughout the full trip. Also, calculating and informing the students about the risky parts of the route that contain danger of skidding would be a great addition in a next project. This type of information would require adding components to the IoT mix, but would also result in more precise data to extract insights from.  Since the students have to set priorities in such a small time frame about which technology  parts to invest in, not all options are realized.’’  Nevertheless, Boersma highlights the enormous improvements he has seen during the process: ‘’The first drawing depicted a piece of steel with two wheels underneath. In just two years’ time this simple concept evolved into the motorbikes that we are currently seeing on the road. The students did everything themselves and showed a lot of audacity and perseverance. They are outstanding if you look at their professional attitude and marketing skills.’’

By attaching specific significance to the STORM data, KPN is able to focus on different parts of M2M communication that may contribute to future innovations in the field of connectivity.  The STORM World Tour began in the southern Netherlands city of Eindhoven, starting a route that circumnavigates the northern hemisphere, leaving Europe via Central Asia and then crossing North America before returning to Eindhoven on November 2.

Watch the progress of the electric motorcycle

You can follow the progress of the STORM project via the links below or catch up on part 1 of the story.