PITTSBURGH—Pitt researchers have long had a drive to understand how things work. Now they have the opportunity to drive to understand how the Innova Dash University Electric Vehicle (UEV), a tiny electric car, works—and to find out how to make it work better.
Pitt is one of four universities nationwide that, come July, will be testing the two-seat car. The endeavor is in collaboration with Internet2, a national consortium of research and education institutions looking to solve common technology challenges.
Pitt researchers will be testing four UEVs and looking into how they could help reduce the campus’ carbon footprint by collecting massive amounts of data from the car’s various sensors. The yearlong project is also designed to raise awareness of the “Internet of Things,” a concept used to describe electronic communication between devices such as the electric cars and Pitt’s data-collection devices—independent of people.
Patricia Beeson, Pitt provost and senior vice chancellor, says that Pitt’s selection as a UEV tester speaks well of the University’s many different strengths.
“This is a unique opportunity to make Pitt’s research, sustainability, and technology strengths visible in a very accessible way,” she says. “Collaborative partnerships like this one effectively complement the University’s sustainability efforts, offering concrete examples of sustainable practices using technology and collecting large data sets that can prompt future research questions.”
Ervin Sejdic, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, is leading the UEV effort at Pitt. He believes that one of the most significant areas of research will be “energy optimal routing.”
Let’s say one wants to drive a UEV from Pitt’s lower campus to high atop Cardiac Hill. Will the steepest route up drain the battery to such a degree that returning via the same route—using the car’s regenerative braking system that recharges the battery by transferring power from the brakes to the battery—won’t be enough to offset the loss?
And what’s the best way to drive the thing in general? What are the optimal situations in which to accelerate or brake? How powerfully or how softly should the ideal driver stomp on the accelerator?
The UEVs will be used by several entities at Pitt. Computing Services and Systems Development will have one car as will Parking, Transportation and Services. The Swanson School of Engineering will have two.
Brian Stengel, a staff member in the office of the chief information officer at Computing Services and Systems Development, is the project manager/outreach coordinator for the UEV project. Marlin Mickle, Pitt professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, is serving as an advisor on the project.
Colorado State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Wisconsin are also testing the Innova Dash.
About Innova UEV LLC Innova UEV, a zero-emissions electronic vehicle company, is based in the Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge, Ill. Innova’s Dash is a new urban electric vehicle, a variation on European micro-car technology. The Dash fills the important zero-emissions gap between motorcycles and compact vehicles. With a maximum speed of 35 mph and an estimated 100-mile range, the Dash plugs into any standard garage 240-volt outlet at the cost of less than $.25-a-day to operate. For details, go to http://www.innovauev.com
About Internet2 Internet2® is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation's leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research, and community service missions.
Internet2 also operates the nation’s largest and fastest coast-to-coast research and education network, in which the Network Operations Center is powered by Indiana University. Internet2 serves more than 93,000 community anchor institutions, 250 U.S. universities, 70 government agencies, 38 regional and state education networks, 80 leading corporations working with our community, and more than 65 national research and education networking partners representing more than 100 countries.
Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Emeryville, Calif.; Washington, D.C; and West Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit www.internet2.edu or follow @Internet2 on Twitter.