The Vision of Intelligent Power Cables

ubitricity is implementing an innovative EV charging infrastructure system. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt provides for international leadership in security of measurement systems

© Ubitricity

Presently, the expensive recharging stations for electrical mobility systems seem impractical for recharging a car or two. Knut Hechtfischer and Dr. Frank Pawlitschek, founders and managing directors of ubitricity Gesellschaft für verteilte Energiesysteme mbH [distributed energy systems company with limited liability], want to make some changes in this area. Their solution is small and fits into a box, currently about the size of a brick.

Their concept is called “Mobile Metering”. It moves the meter technology from the recharging station to the car or power cable. It merely needs a cost-efficient system power socket without any expensive metering technology to replace recharging stations. Vehicles would carry their own meters. Such systems would be the foundation of a comprehensive recharging network, according to the vision of the two lawyers, who made the entrepreneurial leap in 2008.

“Our objective is a smart combination of intelligent technology, economic feasibility and legal requirements”, says Knut Hechtfischer about the project, which will be sponsored by the German Ministry of Economics and Technology until 2014. He didn‘t have to look far for an experienced partner. Located a mere couple hundred meters from the ubitricity premises in Charlottenburg, the Berlin institute of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) [German National Metrology Institute] is hardly known to the public but an international leader in technology and standard development.

The task of this facility established in 1887 is to represent units of measure, such as kilograms, meters & seconds, and ensure their suitability and capability as units of measure. “Just as there must be a reasonable system for measuring currency for the economy to work, there must be a reasonable system of measurement”, says Professor Hans Koch, Institutional Director of PTB in Berlin. In the case of ubitricity, Dr. Norbert Zisky, Manager of the PTB Workgroup for Data Communication and Security, is also working on a secure means of exchanging electronic measurement data. He is responsible for ensuring the process will operate smoothly, identify every system, measure the power consumption, link the data with the time and transfer all data about the vehicle to the central database system by radio. “Validation of the data sources must be possible so that these sources can be trusted”, says Dr. Zisky.

In principle, PTB is open to anyone who has a question about weights and measures and their regulation. Conducting exclusive research is not the point, as Dr. Koch states, “Our core purpose is to represent units of measure, but we are not simply a governmental agency. We are also a research institute expanding the boundaries of measurement technology. We’re not doing that in an ivory tower as “art for art’s sake”, but rather so that research as a joint venture has a practical effect on the economy, as is the case with ubitricity.” Mr. Hechtfischer’s vision does not stop with intelligent cables. He wants his system to be a harmonious component in the smart power grid, so that vehicles serve as batteries and above all use renewable energy sources, “We simply want to connect the system components that are already there, the power grid, the socket and the vehicle, using technology that is already there such as mobile communications. The only thing missing is a smart user, so we are placing intelligence in the car or the power cable.”

Susanne Hörr
Kluge Köpfe 2012