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I am developing an EV Route Planner and I would like your help.

We all know that planning a long trip in an EV is quite a challenge today. Where are the chargers? Are they working? Are they suitable for my car (correct socket, charge rate etc)? We have to search several different network maps and then build a route between the charger locations on Google.

I want to make this whole process much easier.

The EV Route Planner is ready for you to try and I would like your feedback but it is important to remember that this is not a finished product! In fact, it is little more than a proof of concept at this stage but if feedback is promising I shall continue the development.

To try it out go to : http://www.evzone.org.uk/ev-route-planner
Feedback here: http://www.evzone.org.uk/index.php/ev-route-planner/feedback-comments

Please feedback directly on the EV Route Planner page, thank you.

Instructions are included on the site.

I say again... this is not much more than a test site so comments about performance are irrelevant and you may find me saying "yes, but it is only a test at this stage" in response to any comments that things are missing... I know things are missing... it is just a proof of concept at this stage... so the question is this: what would you want to see included?

So, if you can see it working for you then what features would you like to see in such a planner?

Things I already plan to include are:
  • Selection by connector type (J1772, CHAdeMO, Type 2 etc)
  • Selection by network operator (Ecotricity, POLAR etc)
  • Selection of your car model to automatically set range
  • Auto adjustment of range for weather/temperature forecast
  • Links to TripAdvisor
  • Auto calculation of trip time including time at charging stops
  • Print facility to neatly print the route and directions along with an itinerary
  • A "Save Route" facility to allow routes to be reloaded
  • A route modify function... at the moment routes cannot be modified once built except for start and end. It you need to modify a route then just build a new one - it is quick enough!
  • Better performance
  • Cross-browser compatibility (not done so may only work with Internet Explorer or Firefox for now)
  • Mobile and tablet compatibility (not done at all yet but will be)
  • Live status - this is a difficult one as it steps on the toes of the network operators but it should be possible if we can get permissions.
  • Adjustment in range for terrain (hills)... this is possible but how I would incorporate it into the product is unclear at this stage because you have to set a range before you build the route but it is not until you have a route that you know the terrain. It is a bit of a catch 22. Any ideas?
Have a play and if you can think of anything else then please let me know :) I can't guarantee I can do it but if I can and it makes sense in the scheme of the project I will try to include it.
 

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this looks good, in fact I was thinking of doing this in an Android app, but I simply don't have enough time to do so.
On a sour note, it doesn't work for me on firefox 10.
 

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Just from spending 2 minutes on there, it looks far better than anything I have used so far.

Really really like this at this early stage and looks like it could be so much better.
 

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Yes, I can see potential here.
Just had a quick play around and found one thing irritating. The details for a charger are coming up far too quick, maybe change this from hover to click? When there are chargers close together it's easy to get the 'wrong' charger details.
When I have more time I will have a closer look,
looks useful.
 

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A great idea. As to the influence of terrain, take a look at https://evtripplanner.com, this simply allows a route to be calculated and flags up if you would run out of juice (taking terrain into account). It marks all the chargers on the route and enables you to add them. I don't think it has been developed much over the past few months although, saying that, the Bristol supercharger has been added, and there's a beta for the Nissan Leaf too.

Personally, I would pay good money for an intelligent EV route planner, the feedback you are likely to get from this forum means development should converge quite rapidly onto exactly what the EV community needs. I would go as far as to say that an alpha version need not concern itself with terrain, temperature etc., we can make our own mental adjustments on range from experience to start with, but a simple route planner through available charging points (of the correct type) would be an excellent start, and you've got it. This would be used, and used by all IMO.

Comments on your planned expansion;

  • Selection by connector type (J1772, CHAdeMO, Type 2 etc) Lovely!
  • Selection by network operator (Ecotricity, POLAR etc) Useful, especially if optimising
  • Selection of your car model to automatically set range Not initially necessary IMO - given different driving styles and the influence of temperature, speed and terrain on real-world range.
  • Auto adjustment of range for weather/temperature forecast If this can be be implemented, bloody excellent, but like I said, a slick means of planning route A to B through chargers X, Y and Z, with distances recorded between each, would be a great start. You can then leave it up to us to decide if we can make it!
  • Links to TripAdvisor Cool and a potential source of revenue? Also, this may give TripAdvisor a nudge in the right direction to include EV charging as a searchable parameter on their site?
  • Auto calculation of trip time including time at charging stops Wow, this would be the USP making this a killer app. If you were able to optimise, then you'd make a fortune.
  • Print facility to neatly print the route and directions along with an itinerary A must have
  • A "Save Route" facility to allow routes to be reloaded Great
  • A route modify function... at the moment routes cannot be modified once built except for start and end. It you need to modify a route then just build a new one - it is quick enough! There will be multiple options for a route, an app. selecting the best route including time to charge would automatically need to alter the route as the user changes parameters such as "quickest time" or "shortest route" or "fewest charging stops" etc.
  • Better performance Not important (if you mean speed?) as this is automation and by default, much quicker than doing it manually in any case.
  • Cross-browser compatibility (not done so may only work with Internet Explorer or Firefox for now) I'd stick with those two, both free to download and use
  • Mobile and tablet compatibility (not done at all yet but will be) Nice
  • Live status - this is a difficult one as it steps on the toes of the network operators but it should be possible if we can get permissions. I can't see why they would not grant permission given they want people to use their network. I can see a future version optimising the total charging cost given the different tariffs / charging structures out there; this may piss off the more expensive operators?
  • Adjustment in range for terrain (hills)... this is possible but how I would incorporate it into the product is unclear at this stage because you have to set a range before you build the route but it is not until you have a route that you know the terrain. It is a bit of a catch 22. Any ideas?
Utopia?
At the end of the day, I would want to put in origin, destination (perhaps multiple destinations) and for a route planner to take the knowledge about my car, the temperature, the terrain and my driving speed, together with my preferences to a) minimise time or b) minimise total charging cost / time or c) minimise total distance or even (my preference) d) minimise a function of all influences biased by user-defined weights (such as "how important is charging cost on a scale of 1 to 10? etc.) and select and optimal route through chargers with a backup plan.

Not much to ask is it? ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys. What great feedback.

I have had a few private emails too and the general consensus seems to be to get on an do it! So I shall. :)

Your ideas are superb... please keep them coming. I may not be able to implement everything you all suggest but knowing what you want will mean I can at least go some way towards fulfilling your needs and over time perhaps I can add more features as the project develops.

For now though I guess it is full steam ahead to produce something that offers the basics and take it from there.

This is actually very exciting for me. It is something I have been wanting to do for a year or two and it is getting me back into programming after a few years out. I am still rather rusty but getting better by the day :)

Not much to ask is it? ;-)
Just what I need though... a demanding customer base to keep me focussed on the important things.
 

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At present it asks you choose a charger type/speed and range before you head off. Then it shows you a route but it also shows lots of chargers (of that selected type) that have nothing to do with the route.

When I think of an EV route planner I think of something where I put in where I want to go and what connectors my car has (ideally just my car type and it will know) and then it plans the route and shows me range points (ideal/max) and chargers I can use on the way.

Beyond that I'd like it to allow me to chose options like fastest route/most economical route and also if I can or will be charging at destination AND if it's a one-way or return journey. It'd be even better (thinking ahead) if it asked what cards I had, told me which route I could use with those (if any) and how a different/better/faster route could be achieved if I had x,y or z card instead/as well. These would all affect my personal route planning if I were doing it manually.

Otherwise I still have to do a lot of it manually, because it doesn't know enough about my plans, cards or car to do the "clever" stuff I have to do at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
At present it asks you choose a charger type/speed and range before you head off. Then it shows you a route but it also shows lots of chargers (of that selected type) that have nothing to do with the route.
Yes... they are all the chargers you can reach from your starting point. The problem is that I have not built in any concept of direction so it just shows all chargers, in all directions within range. I might be able to improve that by determining direction and creating a cone rather than a circle but that is for a later release.

When I think of an EV route planner I think of something where I put in where I want to go and what connectors my car has (ideally just my car type and it will know) and then it plans the route and shows me range points (ideal/max) and chargers I can use on the way.
Auto route planning from end to end via your entered criteria (charger type, network etc) is a great idea.

Unfortunately it might be almost impossible to do in any kind of sensible way.

The issue is one of the sheer number of route calculations that would need to be made to determine which combination of charger stops constitutes the best overall itinerary. It would be necessary to route plan the entire route for each combination of chargers within range at each stop and then picking the route that best meets your criteria (least stops/least charging time/most direct etc). Programatically it is not that difficult but it would require a significant amount of computer/network resources not to mention require a very significant number of Google API calls. That would be horrendous from a performance perspective and also use a lot of Google API calls and they are limited without paying for a professional licence which that would mean charging a fee ... something I am trying to avoid.

It is a good idea and I will investigate but I was not imagining anything so automated. Perhaps that is for a major update at a later stage once I have worked out how to do it in a sensible way without having to calculate the whole route for every charging stop combination.

I can imagine how it could be done by pre-calculating a weighting of routes between chargers in the entire OCM database and then using those weightings when a particular route is requested but this is way beyond phase 1 :)

Beyond that I'd like it to allow me to chose options like fastest route/most economical route and also if I can or will be charging at destination AND if it's a one-way or return journey. It'd be even better (thinking ahead) if it asked what cards I had, told me which route I could use with those (if any) and how a different/better/faster route could be achieved if I had x,y or z card instead/as well. These would all affect my personal route planning if I were doing it manually.
The out and back issue has already been raised, thanks.

The cards issue is not easy as I would need an accurate and up to date reference of what networks each card could be use on and I don't think there is such a reference. Even if I had such a reference the issue of needing to calculate the entire route many times to determine best for your criteria raises it' head again. Can't see this happening until the data is available and certainly not in phase 1.

You are right though Paul... this first version will require a bit of manual work but hopefully it will be so much less work than we have to do it right now and over time a lot of the good points you and others have raised could be built in.

It is an aid... not the entire perfect solution - yet!!! :)

We have to start somewhere though and so version 1 will just do the basics.
 

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A couple of thoughts from me.
If it needs a page of instructions, it's not intuitive enough!
A bit like @Paul I'd just like to enter start and end (and round trip) and it just do all the work. Finding chargers in range is smart, but still needs me to know sort of where I'm going, i.e. maybe I start going along the A1 but can't actually get to my destination and should have chosen the M1. Maybe instead of the circle around a fixed point it should show a corridor of chargers around the route?

I guess I am thinking of an app which works like the London Underground/Paris Metro ones. I say where I want to go to and from, it gives me a very simple list of places to drive to and charge levels to get to. If you can make something, in the nicest possible way, "partner friendly", then it could be really useful.
 

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@Paul_Churchley I know it's massively demanding, but if you don't ask... :D

Good luck with it, definitely has potential and if driven by an EV owner independent of any particular network it has the best chance of doing the "right" things as it evolves.

While I'm thinking, let's just throw in traffic data too shall we? :D ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
See my explanation Edd. The full end to end solution is not a trivial issue. As I said to Paul... I am not ruling it out but it will need some careful designing and probably some clever maths to determine the ideal route using a number of criteria between all charging location pairs.

As for the instructions... I think it is unreasonable to expect people to learn about the intricacies without a few words of instruction. Not everything can be made to be obvious but I will try to make it as intuitive as I can... If you have any ideas how I could improve it in that respect then please let me know :)

To be honest though... I can't imagine that this could be effectively used without some instructions. Most of that page are screen shots.

I know it's massively demanding, but if you don't ask... :D
Exactly :) I have no problem with anyone asking for anything and if I can see a way and it makes sense then I will put it in. Keep the ideas coming... even the seemingly impossible ones... they might end up not quite so impossible after all!

While I'm thinking, let's just throw in traffic data too shall we?
OOOOH! You little bu%%er! Now that is a good one. Again, not sure how I'd interface that info in but that is definitely on the "enhancements" list :) Thx.
 

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Perhaps you could pre-define some travel corridors, like, M4, M6, A1 etc. So once your circle touches one of those corridors it knows to check "ok, can my traveller get there on the M6 corridor?" so rather than always plotting from the first M6 charger to all other chargers, it knows where to stop travelling North. It then only needs to plan from each hop "can I get to the destination from this hop?" keep moving along the M6 corridor until the distance to your destination gets larger rather than smaller, and if you can't make it to the destination look for another corridor.

On the networks/cards thing, I'd prefer that it weight heavier on ecotricity and CYC, but simply plot the best route and present a list of the needed cards at the end. Again falls into the tube planner idea where it tells you you need zones 1-4 for your trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Good ideas Edd. Thx.

The idea of predefined routes, such as a single motorway, is a good idea.

Getting a list of cards may not be easy right now because there is no definitive list of which cards work on which network... but we could easily produce a list of the networks your route is using. Another good idea.

@smartie Cost of charging is a good idea providing we can get a definitive list of charging fees from somewhere.

Perhaps we could get OCM to store a list of cards and which networks they work on... same for network pricing... O|CM makes sense to store that kind of semi-static data and then it would be easy to update when they change... probably annually.
 

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How about a filter for types and power of charger and allow the user to select up to a certain number of chargers on or near the route, from that filtered list - then optimise across only those chargers? Or just allow users to select their preferred charger locations and calculate total route and charging time and let the user play around?

In any event, only those chargers with the right criteria and within a limited number of miles of the route should be considered.
 

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That is looking brilliant!

Order of wanting-ness.

  1. Could the waypoint and destination use the "Send to Car" function so I can feed the locations to the car?
  2. Being a Nissan driver, could I send the route to the car?
  3. Could the range circles be persistent but with different colours you we could see the range at each chargepoint? Only a nice-to-have though.
Even without these, this is a great solution.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks Lee. I agree... only charger locations that meet the user criteria should be considered.

Allowing the selection of a number of chargers on route... i.e. the chargers that you are willing to charge at... and then optimising with just those chargers may go some way towards solving the issue over the number of variations but I honestly can't see it working. If I were to plan a route from Cornwall to Edinburgh, which I have done and driven it in my Leaf, then I would need to select a lot of charger options before I could even get the route calculated. It would be a nightmare. But again... something to put in the mix.

The way I have done it is simple, does require a little bit of work from the user, but the hard work is done for you... the displaying of the chargers in range and adding those to the route. That in itself should represent a huge step in the right direction over what we have now.

@harrisop Don't forget the range ring is as the crow flies... the real route distance (Google calculated) is in the directions on the left... just a little reminder :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Someone just suggested by email that we have 2 rings... 80% and 100%...

I think that could be a bit more use to us if we had the 100% range and a second ring at the percentage of your choice.

So for a Leaf I might enter a 100% range of 70miles... that would give me a single ring at 70 miles... but then I could enter an option percentage to give me a second ring, inside the 100% ring, at the percentage you entered.

This would help you decide whether you needed a 100% charge or whether you cold just go to 80%... quicker and better for the battery and helps free the charger more quickly.

I shall just put that in straight away.
 

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Paul, for Tesla users (or anyone with very large range), the second and subsequent range capabilities are likely to be much less than when "full". Even with Chademo, half an hour only adds about 80 miles, so an 80% and 100% is less useful for subsequent "hops" for us lot. I assume that a more sophisticated version could allow the user to enter an amount of charge picked up at the stop and adjust the ring for the next hop? This need not be automatic at first but then leads the way for the trade-off between full/partial charge and time taken. Rate of charge for my car is much higher when the battery is nearly empty ;-)
 
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