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NREL, EasyMile Collaboration to Usher in New Wave of Autonomous Vehicle R&D

September 21, 2017

In an important step toward furthering intelligent, efficient, and autonomous electric vehicles, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) plans to partner on research and development efforts with EasyMile, a French smart mobility solutions company with offices in Denver, Colorado, and Singapore.

The company provided a demo of its driverless EZ10 shuttle at NREL's South Table Mountain campus earlier this month. NREL and EasyMile plan to embark on a new joint research collaboration in which NREL will help EasyMile further develop its autonomous shuttles to possibly include technology such as wireless charging, connected and managed charging, and advanced energy storage. EasyMile is also working with Panasonic to provide transportation via its shuttles between the nearby light-rail stop and Denver's planned smart city, Peña Station Next, located just south of Denver International Airport.

The NREL collaboration will explore opportunities for how wireless charging could enable intelligent load management in various grid and campus load scenarios, including when there is a high concentration of energy coming from renewables. The work will also seek to increase understanding of optimized on-board energy storage strategies, such as evaluating which battery types and battery chemistries would safely provide the highest energy density. An additional area of interest includes developing optimal thermal management and design approaches with the goal of minimizing cooling and heating loads to maximize vehicle range and efficiency, while maintaining cabin comfort for passengers.

"Autonomous transportation technology is a promising solution for making transit systems safer, more reliable, and energy efficient," said NREL's Kevin Walkowicz. "Advanced charge management strategies combined with wireless charging are a natural fit with autonomous and connected vehicles. We're excited this opportunity will allow us to be at the forefront of this fast-moving research space."

As part of NREL's Intelligent Campus strategy, NREL is considering using the EZ10 shuttle, which is designed to cover short distances and predefined routes, to transport staff and visitors around the South Table Mountain site.

Learn more about NREL's sustainable transportation research.