‘AI will make BEV batteries better and cleaner,’ says German researcher

Ralf Herbrich is a German computer scientist at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam just outside Berlin. He previously investigated the role of artificial intelligence in the daily operations of big companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Zalando. Herbrich now wants to use his experience to increase battery pack life in electric cars – and laptops.

He aims to prolong the lifecycle of batteries by optimizing the charging and discharging processes. Today, algorithms control these processes primarily to enhance safety, but Herbrich believes that an AI-supported system could selectively distribute the loads to individual battery cells. The increase in precision of the demanding charging process can significantly upgrade the longevity of these cells.

‘Exciting idea’

“This is an exciting idea. There’s a lot of vision here,” said Herbrich to the German press agency DPA. He sees important potential down the value chain, as longer-lasting batteries will ease the impact on mining and critical raw materials. As such, the environment benefits from these AI-controlled systems.

However, the technology isn’t ready for tomorrow. Hebrich added that it takes several years to mature these “very small computers running these programs”. To this end, the German professor set up an AI and sustainability department at the University of Potsdam.

Toyota and Stanford

Though the potential of artificial intelligence is gaining more and more attention, some constraints remain. Training large amounts of data is an energy-intensive process. The most famous AI application, Chat GPT, needs many times more energy to create the texts and analyses otherwise written by the human brain.

Herbrich hasn’t hit upon an untouched spot, either. Toyota is already running a pilot program with the University of Stanford, intending to use machine learning to make battery packs more resistant to fast charging.

These scientists have already lowered the evaluation times of battery testing, which is considered a major bottleneck for longer-lasting batteries.

Experiments to determine a cell’s lifetime can take months or even years. But the main goal here is speed, reducing charging times to the time needed to fill up a gasoline car.


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