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Get In: The Connected Vehicle Podcast From BlackBerry (Episode 4)

Talking EV Power Management with Electra

A major factor in the connected vehicle revolution is the rapidly accelerating switchover to electric cars. Battery power requires efficient management, including software that reacts to conditions both inside the car and in the wider environment. There is a huge opportunity here to leverage software to provide optimal battery range that reacts to location and driving style – with the right platform.

Meet Fabrizio Martini, co-founder & CEO of Electra Vehicles, a pioneer in the application of analytics and algorithms to optimize battery performance and improve vehicle range. Martini shared his vision for enlightened electrification of automobiles and more in the fourth episode of “Get In: The Connected Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry,” our series that explores the possibilities created by -- and technologies behind -- the revolution in global transportation we are witnessing today.

Click below to listen/watch the full Episode 4 podcast. Additional episodes can be found here.  
 

The initial idea for Electra Vehicles came when Martini was working with NASA on a project to create an electric rover for exploring Venus. The challenges of making a vehicle work efficiently in such an inhospitable extraterrestrial environment seemed like it could pay dividends on our home planet, too. Martini, who also did stints at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, says he “moved from Earth to space, back to Earth,” looking to apply what he had learned to more mundane modes of transportation.

The technology developed for the Venus explorer project had numerous applications. “NASA was looking to predict any potential failure of the energy storage, to make sure the vehicle was powered properly, as well as being able to talk to the station and to Earth,” says Martini. “So that's part of the connected vehicle aspect.” The NASA project was also interested in improving battery storage, as well as developing greater efficiency as the battery was used over time. These principles became a foundation for Electra’s core artificial intelligence technology (AI), “What we call EVE-Ai, our brain for batteries.”

However, electrification isn’t the only emerging opportunity for automakers. “We’re also going to start seeing more and more autonomous vehicles,” says Martini. “That is very linked to electrification because the two combined can bring very good efficiency, and that's what we need to utilize the battery with the greatest possible optimization. There's going to be a lot of connectivity between vehicles, so the vehicles will start to learn from each other.”

In anticipation of this convergence of autonomy with electrification, Electra has developed technology to help extend the range of electric vehicles. “EVE-Ai…can be deployed into any electric vehicle, any battery pack of any chemistry – from NMC, NCA utilized by Tesla, LFP, also innovative cell chemistries, like solid state batteries,” explains Martini. Electra’s team includes experts in machine learning and AI, data science, and software development. Together, they can develop an understanding of how each battery is going to behave in a given vehicle and with a specific driver, then adapt the control strategy accordingly.

“One of the features that we are deploying is called the EVE-Ai velocity recommendation. We coach the driver and give some advice on how fast to go to reach the destination,” Martini says.

“Another feature that we are bringing to market is called EVE-Ai dynamic state of charge,” continues Martini. “That gives the ability to push a button to receive an additional 50 miles, 100 miles, or more for a specific trip. We are seeing very good extended range, between 24 and 28 percent extra with a single charge, thanks to managing all the data that comes from the battery, from the vehicle, from the driver, and from the environment. There is great potential with the software layer on top of the batteries.”

The technology to power this push-button extension of battery life and driving range is applied so subtly and skillfully, Martini says, that the car’s occupants can’t tell the difference. “The experience to the driver is not perceptible. It's really a seamless adjustment of the control strategy. The EVE-Ai adaptive cell model and dynamic state of charge pushes the maximum-minimum limits of the batteries when it's safe to do so. There are certain times that when the battery is healthy, it's very relaxed, so it can push to the limit and give you that extra range.”

This advanced application of cutting-edge battery science also offers very positive implications for battery durability. “Most of the OEMs and Tier-1s are providing an eight-year battery warranty, sometimes 10,” says Martini. “But they would like 12, 15, 20 years. That's also important for the environment.”

“With our brain for batteries, we collect all the information around the batteries, the vehicles, the drivers, and the environment. We feed them into a neural network and recommend certain aspects, such as what should be the overnight charging curve. We have another solution called route optimization that helps to limit the wear of the batteries. A combination of these two features provides an increase in lifetime of about 30 percent.”

A fundamental enabler of this technology is the ability to collect and utilize all the data that the vehicle is producing from its proliferation of sensors, which is where Electra’s work with BlackBerry has become crucial. “We have started to collect more and more data,” says Martini. “BlackBerry’s innovative IVY platform acts as a middleware, helping to collect all this data from all these sensors. There is a big opportunity and we're going to see more and more applications like AI coming out – for methods of payment, for methods of recharging the batteries, methods of utilizing infotainment, and increasing safety.”

Electric motorsports provided an early proof point for Electra’s technology. “In 2015, one of our first case studies was on Formula E,” explains Martini. “We were trying to give extra range and extra power to the vehicles, and we saw great results. Formula E is improving year after year. The performance is going to surpass Formula 1. The question is when: Is it going to take 10 years, 15 years, 20 years? We don't know, but companies like BlackBerry with IVY and Electra with EVE-Ai could help performance improve.”

Another area where Electra’s EVE-Ai can pay dividends is in failure prevention. “Unfortunately, we still see large recalls,” says Martini. “We developed a software platform called EVE-Ai Predictive Analytics that helps to predict failure. It helps by telling which batteries can last one or two extra years to provide additional warranties to the driver or the fleet manager, versus the batteries that need to be recalled. You don't need to recall half a million batteries or 100,000 batteries. You can just recall a few thousand and take care of those, because those are the batteries that are having trouble.” This technology is greatly enhanced with a fleet of connected vehicles. “If you have a few thousand vehicles, they can start learning from each other.”

Martini sees two trends becoming the most influential over the coming years, thanks to connectivity. “Internet of Things is one big wave,” he says. “The other one is vehicle-to-X (V2X). That means vehicle to another vehicle (V2V); vehicle to infrastructure (V2I); or vehicle to grid (V2G).

“We started to see smart lights, for example, providing insights on whether the (traffic) light will be red or green, as well as buildings that will tell you if there are any available charging stations. Safety will be increased. No more shutdowns, recalls, thermal runaways, or dropping the range from 50 to 20 percent, just because it's cold outside.”

With such a bright future ahead, thanks to these connected vehicle innovations, Electra is very positive about its potential to grow. “We are in full hiring mode,” says Martini. “We are hiring talent from all over the world, all over the United States, and in particular, talent with expertise in machine learning, AI, and data science.” The connected vehicle is going to have some transformational improvements in store from Electra’s battery analytics technology, with a little bit of help from Venus.

Listen to Episode 4 of “Get In: The Connected Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry.
 


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Podcast Transcript

Steve Kovsky:
Hi, welcome to Get In: The Connected Vehicle podcast from BlackBerry. I'm your host, Steve Kovsky. Within the series, we'll be diving into what the future of transportation just might look like. And today I'm very happy to be joined by Fabrizio Martini. Fabrizio, thanks so much for joining us. I wonder if you would introduce yourself and your company to the audience.

Fabrizio Martini:
Of course. Thank you, Steve. Thank you for hosting me. It's a pleasure to be here and have a chat about connected vehicles in the future of mobility. My name is Fabrizio Martini. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Electra Vehicles. Electra is an innovative technology company based in Boston and with presence in California, Italy, and Japan. We started Electra about five years ago when I was a principal investigator for a NASA project.

With the NASA team, we were working to develop a rover for exploration of Venus, an electric Rover. In that time, they needed help with the design of the battery packs, the analytics, in particular predictive analytics, as well as the control, in particular active control. I saw an opportunity to provide innovative solutions based on software technology, so I, with my co-founder and the team, started the business about five years ago from that NASA project.

Steve Kovsky:
I want to dig into that a little bit more, but first I want to talk about your background prior to that. You foresaw a career for yourself in the automotive industry before you discovered outer space, it sounds like. If you would, tell me a little bit about your first experience behind the wheel of an automobile, and did that change the trajectory of your life and career to any extent?

Fabrizio Martini:
Yes, absolutely. So, I moved from Earth to space and back to Earth. I'm from Italy originally. I graduated from Polytechnic of Milan and my studies were in automotive vehicle dynamics. I was going to work for a couple of major OEMs in Italy that you all know. Then, I decided to move to the United States to do an American experience. I told my dad that I'm going to stay one year in the U.S. and then come back and then it's been 12 years that I'm here. USA, America, really helped me and welcomed me when I joined my masters at Northeastern University, and I did my master in energy storage. I started to look at that aspect of the technology and I saw there was a lot of potential and opportunities there.

That's where I started to work for the United States government. I worked for the Department of Energy, who were investing a lot in energy storage about 10-15 years ago and still do nowadays. Then I worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and finally at NASA. With the NASA team, we started to work on the project that I mentioned to you before. All pushing to electrification, application of batteries and energy storage. As I mentioned, about five years ago, we started to take some of that technology back to Earth, and that's why we set Electra at that time.

Steve Kovsky:
So back here on earth, people say that Americans have a huge love affair with their cars, but we have nothing on Italy in that area. When you first got behind the wheel, you had this very different experience, probably a car with a combustion engine, you had the noise and everything. Are people going to feel the same passion for driving electric vehicles as they do for their combustion engine vehicles?

Fabrizio Martini:
I don't think so. The experience of driving electric vehicles is slightly different from regular engines, but it can bring a lot of interesting aspects. The acceleration that electric vehicles provide, the silence as well as the control that you can have. The stability of an electric vehicle is something that you don't have in regular, gas engine powered vehicles. There are different sensations. There is going to be a transition, of course, because of the passion for regular vehicles, so it will take time, but all the new generations and the following generations will definitely fall in love with electric vehicles. It's a new technology that can bring a lot of efficiency to mobility in general. I don't see this big wave stopping any time soon.

Steve Kovsky:
Those of us who've spent decades and decades watching the progression of solar energy, of battery charging, of battery technology, relatively, it seems like it's been a slow progression. You've seen it really at the cutting edge where you have very finite resources. It's everything that you brought with you to that planet, that's all you've got you. What did you learn from that experience that you're now applying to the cars that all of us are going to be driving?

Fabrizio Martini:
It was a great experience. Overall. The U.S. government is really supportive of innovative technologies that can help the transition to green technologies and reducing the environmental impact of mobility, transportation and more. I've seen that at the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and NASA. We're investing in these technologies. In particular, as you mentioned, in outer space, there is no oxygen so you will need other sources of power and every exploration through a rover, through a balloon, through a drone, needs to be powered by electricity or another source. Definitely not a regular gasoline engine. Thanks to that experience, what we have seen is that the battery is a critical component of the rover for exploration and yes, the battery was critical, very important. 

The NASA team was looking to make sure that predictions for any potential failure of the energy storage, make sure to power the vehicle properly, as well as be able to talk to the station and to Earth. That's part of the connected vehicle aspect that we're going to talk about. Yes, a lot of concentration on the batteries and how to improve the energy storage over time. In fact, another aspect they were looking for is deploying an inactive control, a brain that could learn how the battery was deployed and utilized, and improve that over time. That’s what we develop at Electra and we call it EVE-Ai, our “brain” for batteries.

Steve Kovsky:
Well, that's really exciting. There are a lot of things that go into this future of transportation that we're talking about today. If you were to look forward 10-15 years, what do you think the environment is going to be for transportation? What's our experience going to be? How's it going to be different from today?

Fabrizio Martini:
We are going to have a lot more electric vehicles for sure. Every government is trying to push, to support that. We have the USA Biden administration that is targeting 50% of electric vehicles sales by 2030. We have the European Union, even more aggressive to that target. Definitely more and more electric vehicles. All the OEMs and Tier 1 supplies are working to develop and deploy electric vehicles. Also, we're going to start seeing more and more autonomous vehicles as well.

That is very linked to electric because the two combined can bring very good efficiency and that's what we need in order to utilize the battery at the most efficient that we can. I foresee more and more electric vehicles. This is an unstoppable wave. We are going to experience and drive and potentially purchase or lease an electric vehicle, as well as a combination with autonomous. We are seeing more and more self-driving vehicles with or without drivers that are going around. There is going to be the opportunity for people to rent or book or lease an electric vehicle or an autonomous electric vehicle as a service or owned.

Then, I think also there's going to be a lot of connectivity between vehicles. The vehicles will start to learn from each other, will start to interact with each other, and that's the beauty of the technology coming up. I really can't wait to see that happen.

Steve Kovsky:
That's really remarkable. Tell me a little bit more about this feature, where the driver can select a button on the dash and the car will go further and extend the range. What's actually occurring to make that happen?

Fabrizio Martini:
What we have developed at Electra is called EVE-Ai. It's really a brain for batteries that can be deployed into any electric vehicle, any battery pack of any chemistries from NMC, NCA utilized by Tesla, LFP, also innovative cell chemistries, like solid state batteries. And as you mentioned, the range is something very critical, in particular for the user experience. We want a longer range. We want accuracy of the range. What we have done with a great team of experts in machine learning, AI, data scientists, and software developers, is to understand how the battery was going to behave in a vehicle and with a specific driver and then adapt the control strategy. One of the features we are deploying is called the EVE-Ai velocity recommendation. We coach the driver on how fast to go and we give some recommendations on how fast to go to reach the destination.

That helps to reach the destination, at the same time, but saving some energy from your batteries. We also have another feature that we are bringing to market. It's called the EVE-Ai dynamic set of charge. That gives you the ability to push a button and acknowledge that you're going to receive an additional 50 miles, 100 miles or more for a specific trip that you want to do. For a weekend that you want to go out with your kids or with your fiancé somewhere. That gives you the ability to extend the range of your electric vehicle for certain goals and certain extra mileage that you want. These are two of the features that we are deploying. We are seeing very good extended range between 24% to 28% extra range with a single charge. Thanks to managing all the data that come out from the battery, from the vehicle, from the driver and from the environment. Great potential with the software layer on top of the batteries.

Steve Kovsky:
That's really remarkable. This feature where you can press a button and interact with the vehicle and get it to go further. What's occurring when you make that choice? It must be some kind of a tradeoff, whether it's speed or comfort or something, how do you handle that? What's actually occurring underneath?

Fabrizio Martini:
Yes. In reality, the experience of the driver is not perceptible. It's really a seamless adjustment of the control strategy. The battery is a very sensitive component, and they really change performance based on the environmental temperature, the humidity, the recharge, and the acceleration and so on. It's very sensitive. What we have seen is that sometimes the battery is less stress is able to push to the boundary condition and provide that extra mileage. The EVE-Ai adaptive cell model and dynamic set of charge, that is the future that we are talking about, really what it does is push the maximum-minimum limits of the batteries when it's safe to do so. When we see that there is an ability to do that, we adjust the limited boundary conditions. Of course, after a fast charge or after other conditions, extreme cold or extreme heat, that won't be available or will be reduced. There are certain times that the battery is healthy, it's very relaxed, so it can push to the limit and give you that extra range.

Steve Kovsky:
Another thing that is starting to come up for people who've been driving electric vehicles for some time is batteries tend to wear out. The length of service for a battery is very important. It's such an expensive component of these cars. How are you affecting that and what are the trends we're going to see going forward on that?

Fabrizio Martini:
You're correct Steve. Lifetime is another aspect. The first thing that the driver feels, and experiences is the range, the limited range. Drivers want more range, and we are working on that with the velocity recommendation dynamic set of charge features that I was telling you about. Then the other aspect is the lifetime. We want the battery to last longer. Now most OEMs and Tier 1’s are providing eight years of lifetime for a warranty, sometimes 10, but we definitely want more. We would like 12, 15, 20 years. That’s also important for the environment because when the battery lasts longer, you can utilize more of the vehicle and when you don’t have to replace the battery. Lifetime is a very important and critical aspect. With our brain for batteries, what we do is really collect all the information around the batteries, the vehicles, the drivers, and the environment.

We feed them into a neural network, into this “brain” for the batteries and we recommend certain aspects such as the charging path. What should the overnight charge be? As an output, we recommend to the vehicle itself how to recharge the battery pack overnight. There is a strategy to improve the lifetime, as well as which path to take to reach your destination. We have another solution called route optimization that helps to limit the battery wear. A combination of these two features, overnight charging and route optimization, provide an increase of lifetime of about 30%. In certain case studies, with a combination of a secondary pack, we have seen up to twice the lifetime. Most of the time when we work on a single chemistry, we have seen 30% extended lifetime. That means 30% less cost of ownership as well. So, lifetime is very, very critical.

Steve Kovsky:
An important component of this is the ability to do all of this processing at the edge, within the vehicle and to collect and utilize all of the data that the vehicle is producing. This is of course where BlackBerry is involved. Could you talk a little bit about what's occurring? If we look at the car as a computer, which is becoming less of what we think of as a car, more of what we think of as a computer, what's happening on that bus, what's allowing you to do all of this calculation and apply all of this technology within the car itself?

Fabrizio Martini:
I believe we have a big opportunity nowadays. We started to collect, as you mentioned, more and more data from the vehicle, from the environment, from the battery and the driver itself. Thanks to all these sensors, we have seen a big wave of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) sensors for autonomous driving. All of these help us to create a lot of data. Now what OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers have is the opportunity to leverage that data to create value, to create safety, to reduce the environmental impact. It’s a big, big opportunity that we have with this amount of data – but as you mentioned, we need to make sure to leverage that data in a proper way. 

One way to do this is through edge computing, as well as cloud computing. That has been improving performance over time and establishing the opportunity. The relationship with BlackBerry that we have is due to the fact that BlackBerry has an innovative new platform called BlackBerry IVY™ that helps to act as a middleware. It helps collect all this data from sensors that we’ve been talking about to improve and create the new synthetic sensors that can help develop applications and protocols, like the ones we are talking about for the velocity recommendation, dynamic set of charges and so on.

The way to collect data, compute some of those data for sensors and synthetic sensors and come up with value. Value to the driver, value to the OEM, to the Tier 1 and to the vehicle itself. I believe there is a big opportunity and we're going to see more and more applications similar to EVE-Ai coming out for method of payments, for method of recharging the batteries, method of utilizing infotainment and more, and increasing the safety as well.

Steve Kovsky:
Your background is so interesting. I think space is one of those incubators for technologies that we then see the progression as it comes back to Earth and is spread out through consumer technologies and into industry. Another one, especially in automotive is Motorsports. Things like Formula 1, Formula E. A lot of innovation occurs there on the track, then we later see it on the roadways. Tell me a little bit about that progression.

Fabrizio Martini:
You're correct. Most of the new technologies often come from space as well as from high performance vehicles like Formula 1, Formula E and so on. Those are tested to demonstrate new technologies. Over the last 30 to 40 years, we have seen a lot of new technologies coming out from the Formula 1 races, and of course, being from Italy, we had the passion for that. I actually grew up close to Monza where the circuit is, very close by there. I went every year to watch Ferrari, Mercedes and many other companies challenging each other and competing. I was interested also to see all the new technology, all the latest technology they were testing. Then everybody was able to benefit from the regular vehicles a couple of years after. So, I agree with you.

There is a very big opportunity with that aspect. Lately, what we have seen is that Formula E started to ramp up. I'm glad to see more and more opening from the FIA that showcase and give a little bit more liberty to companies to explore different battery technologies, different control algorithms, different powertrain design and strategies. I believe there is a big opportunity there. Just an insight when we started Electra Vehicles in 2015, one of the first case studies that we've done was on Formula E. We were taking a couple of trucks of that championship, and we were taking the power profile of that.

We were applying some of the knowledge and insight that we transfer from NASA on how do we manage the battery? How do we optimize the batteries? How would we give a little bit of extra range? We still see a couple of vehicles that are not able to complete all the laps, the 8, 9, 10 laps of Formula E. We were trying to give the extra range, give that extra power to the vehicles and we've seen great results. One of the first case studies for Electra was actually applied to Formula E. That's quite interesting. I think we're going to see more and more advancement there and I can't wait to see what they come up with. 

Steve Kovsky:
Do you think the fans are going to be as excited about Formula E as they are about Formula 1? It's going to be a different experience being in the stands and being able to hear yourself when the cars go by. Is it going to rouse that same passion do you think?

Fabrizio Martini:
I think so. I often go with my dad to watch Formula 1 and Formula E races. Of course, he's a previous generation and he loves Formula E, and he doesn't wear ear plugs because he wants to hear the noise and the engines and so on, but I'm wearing those. I think it's going to be a cultural change that we're going to face. Formula E is improving year after year. Think about in 10, 15, 20 years, we're going to break the records that we are already breaking in some of the circuits. We're going to have more and more laps. We have great speed and great acceleration, so I think the performance is going to be surpassing Formula 1. The question is when. Is it going to take 10 years, 15 years, 20 years? We don't know, but companies like BlackBerry with IVY™, with Electra, with EVE-Ai, could help those performances to improve as well.

Steve Kovsky:
Well, it's exciting to see that develop. In your work with the automotive industry and with particular OEMs, what are some of the challenges that they're facing that you're helping them overcome? 

Fabrizio Martini:
We are still seeing a lot of recalls, unfortunately. We are experiencing a race to electrification. Every OEM and Tier 1 supplier is trying to push their vehicle, their new models to market. Unfortunately, we still see large recalls. This is done for safety. We want to make sure that drivers and people are safe. That also shows a rush of engineering to come up with a new product. I think that the level of recalls should be reduced over the next couple of years. That's why we developed a software platform called EVE-Ai Predictive Analytics, that helps to predict failure. It helps to tell which batteries can last one or two extra years to provide additional warranties to the driver or the fleet manager, versus the batteries that need to be recalled.

Most of the time, you don't need to recall half a million batteries or 100,000 batteries. You can just recall maybe a few hundred or a few thousand and take care of those, because those are the batteries that are having some trouble. Thanks to EVE-Ai Predictive Analytics, we can spot those batteries and predict failure. We have demonstrated this with a couple of our clients in the commercial vehicle industry, where we could predict a failure three to six months in advance. I think that's one of the challenges we are still seeing.

Steve Kovsky:
When you talk about fleets, we know that they are some of the earliest adopters of electric vehicles, and they're doing it in mass. They're learning a lot of lessons there. What are some of those lessons, or perhaps hard lessons, some surprises? What are some of the unexpected consequences that they're experiencing? 

Fabrizio Martini:
Absolutely. Our technology can be applied to regular passenger vehicles, as well as commercial vehicles. We have seen big traction with commercial vehicles and commercial fleets. This is because there is a strong need for reducing the cost of those fleets, reducing the environmental impact of those fleets. So, yes, you're right. There are fleet managers trying to switch to electric. Maybe they start with 5%-10% of their fleet, but have the goals to go to full electric, 100% electric. They started this program, there are several Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs building electrics fleet for the fleet managers, but we have seen some challenges, you're right. One of the challenges is a battery shutdown while the driver is driving without notice. It could occur. Of course, companies are trying to solve this, thanks to machine learning, AI, and modeling of the batteries.

What we have seen is also the benefit aspect. Everybody that is trying an electric fleet starts cutting down the cost. That's something very important for the fleet manager. In addition, there is a connected mobility aspect. Whoever has a fleet of vehicles, can start to learn from each other. If you have a few thousand vehicles, your vehicles can start learning from each other, where are vehicles behaving better in a geographical area versus another? Maybe some drivers drive electric vehicles better than others, are less aggressive. That's why we came up with green leaf scoring cards and points to the better driver for EVs. I think there is a big opportunity here, particularly for the commercial fleet and connected mobility.

Steve Kovsky:
You've worked not only for NASA, but the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. I think you have a perspective here on the big picture perhaps, and the impact that electric vehicles, connected vehicles, can have in society and in our cities, in particular. What are some of those benefits and how quickly do you think we'll start to reap them?

Fabrizio Martini:
We are seeing two big trends. One is the Internet of Things. Over the last 20 years, we are seeing more and more connected objects, smart houses, connected vehicles, and more. The Internet of Things is the big wave that’s happening. Thanks to all this connected world access to the Internet and so on. The other one is Vehicle-to-X. Vehicle-to-X means a vehicle to another vehicle, V2V; vehicle-to-infrastructure, V2I, or vehicle to grid, V2G. These two big things, Internet of Things, as well as V2X, helps us to learn from what’s around the vehicle. It helps to connect the vehicle to the infrastructure. 

We started to see smart lights, for example, providing insight on whether the light will be red or green, as well as buildings that will tell you if there are any available charging stations and if so, tell the vehicle to go there and recharge at a certain temperature and current. That's something that we've seen more and more. Our approach at Electra is also taking some of the input and feeding them into our brain for batteries, in our EVE-Ai. That's why we call it a 360-degree solution. It's really 360 because we capture data where we can and one of those aspects is the vehicle-to-x, the vehicle to infrastructure, other vehicles and greet as well.

Steve Kovsky:
Those are very exciting aspects, really at the edge of what's capable today. Talk about how they're going to change the experience for the driver and the people in these vehicles, whether they're driving them or not, or whether the vehicles are driving themselves. How's it going to change that experience?

Fabrizio Martini:
I would say, first, safety will be increased. No more shutdowns, recalls, thermal runaways, or dropping the range from 50% to 20%, just because it's cold outside, or the algorithm was not calculating the remaining charge left at the end of life. I would say safety will be the first thing that drivers will experience as well as the cost of using electric vehicles. It's already starting to go down, year after year, but it will continue to go down, because the batteries will cost less and less. The manufacturing of battery packs will continue to cost less and the software on top that we've been talking about will improve performance. There is a reduction of cost and performance improvement of the software that when combined makes electric vehicle usage very competitive, and regular gas engines won't be competitive anymore.

Steve Kovsky:
Well, I think that's a bright future and it's one where we're going to enjoy the benefits of this. We're going to have these wonderful vehicles that have capabilities that know us better than we know ourselves. That brings out our better selves to protect the environment and contribute back to society. Even the cars will have social lives of their own. Fabrizio, before we let you go, tell us what's next for Electra and what are you working on now?

Fabrizio Martini:
It's a very exciting time for Electra. We are in full hiring mode. We are hiring talent from all over the world, all over the United States, and in particular talent with expertise in machine learning, AI, data scientists. If you have expertise in those fields within automotive, feel free to reach out, check our website, electravehicles.com, and send your resume. That's one aspect, as well as we are deploying this solution with a couple of clients, so we are testing and showcasing its benefits and look forward to seeing you there.

Steve Kovsky:
Well, that's the end of our episode for today, but if you'd like to get more information on the topics or our guest, check out blackberry.com/podcasts. Get In: The Connected Vehicle podcast from BlackBerry is available wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to subscribe to keep up to date with our latest episodes.

Steve Kovsky

About Steve Kovsky

Steve Kovsky is Editorial Director at BlackBerry.