October 18, 2016 | Written by: Gino Knubben
Categorized: Automotive | Blog
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“Show the world what electric vehicles can do”. This is the challenge a team of 23 students from the Eindhoven University of Technology have taken up. They are currently touring around the world with their self-built electric motorcycle. The trip will cover 40,000 kilometers in only 80 days. The team named their electric touring motorcycle ‘STORM Wave’; it has gone from drawing board to a groundbreaking IoT proof of concept that demonstrates the feasibility of environmentally friendly vehicles, without compromising on performance. With the contributions of STORM’s business partners, an extensive IoT ecosystem generates data that can be translated to research insights. These insights help stimulate future innovations in the automotive industry and beyond. The team set off on their journey on August 14 and are currently reporting live around the world about their experiences and the challenges they face.
Live reporting of progress for STORM wave
The project involved huge challenges. Businesses and individuals helped the students, providing expertise, solutions and (in-house) technology. Technology partners NXP, TomTom, KPN, Itility and The Weather Company, an IBM Business, committed themselves to the project, and their experiences will be featured in this blog post series.
NXP is a world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications; a major player in automotive design, for instance with its in-vehicle networking and secure interface solutions. NXP provided Project STORM with chips, sensors, printed circuit boards and Car2X technology. These components defined the backbone infrastructure that enables the motors to communicate with each other; the engineers in the following cars, and the general public and media to monitor the progression of the Storm around the world.
NXP has always been closely connected to the Technical University Eindhoven and an active partner in many of its student projects:
“NXP immediately started to look for collaboration possibilities when the STORM project was still in its conceptual phase. We believed from the start that our technology could help the students to realize their objectives, and an eventual partnership could be favorable and educational for both parties.”
– Gino Knubben, principal system engineer
The company integrated NXP hardware into the motors and cars by providing integrated circuits (chips), sensors and PCB’s (printed circuit boards). All of these components gather information and transmit it to the cars via V2X. V2X is an IoT communication channel between vehicles and other technological devices. Software is installed on the backbone created by integrating NXP components in all of the vehicles.
The students of Eindhoven University of Technology and NXP labs have met on frequent visits and have a strong spirit of collaboration. When the students encountered problems or issues at an electrical level, NXP was eager to help out with recommendations. Even throughout the trip, a phase in which NXP can no longer contribute physically, the contact between employees and students is still there.
Gino Knubben explains that the team faced many hurdles during the project. “Just think of the simple fact that different countries have different rules for the use and transportation of lithium batteries in vehicles. Transporting these batteries together with the bike by plane to the US is not permitted, so the battery packs had to be shipped separately. This had a massive impact on the planning of the trip.’’ Knubben turned out to be really impressed by the way the students handled all these difficulties: ‘’The general organization has performed well: they have arranged everything themselves, up to the point where NXP is almost being perceived as a mere supplier. The students do the logistics and planning of the project, but they also prepare demos and events. A lot of responsibility, but they deal with it very well, even at such a young age.’’
The Storm students from the Eindhoven University of Technology
Despite the students’ professional approach, Gino Knubben thinks there’s still one big difference between STORM and the automotive industry: “mass production requires individual products to always function perfectly. The margin of error in the automotive industry should always be close to zero. To receive this you need for example to do system and reliability tests for many hours. This takes considerable amount of time which the students simply did not have. But actually every innovative project has to start with trials and evolve before mass production comes in sight.” Nevertheless the enthusiasm about Project STORM at NXP survived. Knubben acknowledges the potential of the students: “I’ve seen some talented students in this group, who we would really like to employ at NXP one day!’’
Storm Wave illustrates the impact of innovative technologies to the world perfectly. As market leader in automotive chip sets, NXP not only enables the Storm Wave motorcycle to tour around the world, but also demonstrates the importance of ‘Secure Connections for a Smarter World’, as Storm Wave is continuously and securely connected with its environment.
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.
You can follow the progress of the STORM project via: