The International Transportation Innovation Center (ITIC), based in Greenville, South Carolina, USA, is to begin implementation of a major expansion that will provide state-of-the-art testing infrastructure for the development of sustainable and connected vehicle systems
Dr Joachim G Taiber, a research professor at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), will head up the facility as chief technology officer.
“The original plan to develop the site started in early 2010. We appointed track designer Tilke in 2014 and they developed these plans into a multi-purpose utilization concept,” said the newly appointed CTO. “The masterplan was finished in 2015 and since then we have been refining it, talking to different clients of ITIC, and we are now in the implementation phase.”
Located within the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center business airpark, the new facilities will be built on a 559-acre area and include a 5,500 x 300ft asphalt surface straightaway with a 1.5-mile concrete surface straightaway for testing prototypes and new technologies, and a handling course and an off-road course, which will be converted from a golf course.
There will also be a 17.7-mile highway testing track along the I-185/Southern Connector that features multiple lanes and underpass/overpass scenarios. A 2-mile stretch of the highway track can be closed for full-day or half-day testing to ensure secure, controlled testing for vehicle prototypes, sustainable technologies and networked vehicle systems. Furthermore, there will be an urban test area for simulating city-driving scenarios for the development of self-driving cars, sustainable technologies, and networked vehicle transportation ecosystems.
ITIC also has fueling and charging capabilities, lifts, conference rooms, research lab space and offices. There’s also a new wireless charging R&D testbed for EVs developed by CU-ICAR in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Toyota, Cisco, Duke Energy and Evatran.
“We started the development of this system in 2012 and it’s now been in use since last year,” Taiber notes. “We’re able to use it for both stationary wireless charging as well as for quasi dynamic wireless charging.”
The first development stage of in-motion wireless charging will be performed at lower speeds (under 35mph), and a built-out option has been identified already on a mile-long straightaway road segment to test dynamic wireless charging at higher speeds. The ITIC testbed has been prepared to also support higher power levels of up to 250kW.
The project development started in 2013 after Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) received a US$8.1m grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE). ORNL subcontracted CU-ICAR to develop the grid-side and vehicle-side communication system for wireless charging, and researched the potential impact of electromagnetic fields.
CU-ICAR partnered with ITIC to develop a physical test system to support the development of the vehicle and infrastructure interaction during the wireless charging process.
Evatran integrated the coil systems and power electronics components developed by ORNL into the test vehicles provided by Toyota. CU-ICAR and Cisco collaborated on the development of the communication radios, both in the vehicles and on the roadside. Duke Energy provided the grid connectivity and the power supply infrastructure. CU-ICAR guided ITIC in the layout and design of the system, and in the development and monitoring of the test procedures.
One of the first tests conducted using the system demonstrated wireless power transfer systems integrated into two different Toyota vehicle models. One of the vehicles was tested at a power transfer rate of 6.9kW and achieved an overall efficiency of greater than 85%. The systems tested used wireless power transfer technology developed by ORNL and communication tools developed in collaboration with Cisco.
Meanwhile, a partnership between ITIC and SK Telecom of South Korea will focus on the implementation and development of new cybersecurity technologies to secure connected vehicles and related infrastructure.
“The target is to ensure they are hack proof and develop cybersecurity standards while trying out different methods of protection. We are currently further developing that partnership,” said Taiber.
According to the CTO, several potential customers have expressed interest in the new facility, which will provide testing infrastructure close to automotive supply chains and support local engineering.
“Greenville is a growing area and we can support more than 200 students. We also encourage companies to co-locate their engineering activities and startups on site. This will provide them with the opportunity to be very close to the university but also to have direct access to testing facilities,” Taiber said.
“In developing this site, don’t just think about the tracks, we are also developing communication infrastructure as well as grid infrastructure and smart city test scenarios, which is very interesting for the IT industry. We need much tighter integration between IT and vehicle technology and there’s a lot of data centers nearby.”
February 26, 2016