Saturday, April 2, 2011

EVER '11

I'm back!

EVER (the international conference on Ecological Vehicles and Renewable Energies, except with the R and E reversed because it is French) is my favorite conference EVER. Last time, the Cap Kart crew and I went in 2009, confused a lot of professors, and ate crepes. This time, Charles and I went in 2011, confused a lot of professors, and ate crepes. Oh, and test-drove an electric box thing that (probably) ran on an Arduino:

...all the Nissan Leaves were spoken for, okay?

Actually, I kinda liked it because you could clearly feel all the inner workings of the electric drive. It reminded me of the Cap had to press an LED-lit button with an arrow on it to choose forward or reverse, and it had the turning radius of a small truck. Not sure how well that bodes for commercialization, but it was fun in sport mode, anyway.

Actually, we were there to present a paper on Miniature Electric Hub Motors, which if you're new to this game, is the key technology in Pneu Scooter, BWD, and about one third of the crazy things Charles builds. Generally speaking, the miniature hub motors are more of a fun hobby for us, but we really couldn't pass up this opportunity to disrupt the atmosphere of an academic conference with them.

Yo, where can we park these?

Oh right, I forgot to mention that we brought hardware. As it turns out, both Pneu Scooter and RazEr rEVolution fit well into checked air baggage. (I took Pneu Scooter to and from Singapore as I was completing it.) The only tricky part is the lithium batteries, but according to the TSA, one large (up to 300Wh) battery installed in a device is allowed in checked baggage. Pneu Scooter's battery clocks in at 145Wh, so I should be fine, right? ... Right?

Overall, the presentation was well-received. The chair for our session was Professor Zhu, who is sort-of like a permanent magnet motor deity. In fact, at EVER '09, he delivered the keynote presentation on fractional-slot PM motors, which is exactly the type that we tend to use for the mini hub motors. Of course, then, one of our main goals was to get Prof. Zhu to test drive the scooters.

Mission accomplished.

The academic conference was fairly standard - a lot of math. The highlight, for me, was a dirt-simple explanation of sensorless control using a flux observer that is exactly what I've been looking for. Sensorless control may be silly for EVs, but I'm still willing to give it a try just to see if I can implement it on my hardware. My hunch is that I will have to improve my current sensors a bit. (3ph 4.0?)

The best thing about bringing vehicles, though, is that we got to crash some of the concurrent events, such as the two-wheel vehicle Ride and Drive...

...and the two-wheel vehicle Acceleration Test...

...which I'm not sure we were supposed to be allowed to do. Considering that the other entries all used pedal assist (and one had more than the nominal two wheels), and absolutely none of them fit in a suitcase, the mini hub motor scooters put up a good fight. I think most people were surprised; I don't know if that's because the scooters actually kept up with the e-bikes, or if it was because they had no idea where we came from or if we were even entered in the race.

Overall, another fun trip to the weird bubblestate of Monaco. I leave you with my proposal for how all suitcases should be constructed:

Fuck little plastic wheels.

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