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Solar panel innovations include artificial intelligence in an effort to boost efficiency

The breakthrough includes a couple of different innovations that make the idea unique and a potential EV charging game-changer.

Odisha innovation is still only a virtual simulation

Photo Credit: iStock

Solar panel innovators in India are accelerating groundbreaking charging tech that could be used in electric vehicles, in part by pumping the brakes. The result of the research could eliminate the need to plug into the grid for a charge.

Experts at the Odisha University of Technology and Research are using the sun and energy generated when the brakes are applied to charge EV batteries, at least in a virtual concept. 

The breakthrough includes a couple of different innovations that make the idea unique and a potential EV charging game-changer, according to a report from IEEE Spectrum. The experts claim the panels could one day be used in industry, at home to power appliances, and for EVs. 

Most EVs on the market require a plug-in charge, either at home or at a public charging station. Study lead author Bismit Mohanty told Spectrum that he envisions a class of EVs that doesn't need the power grid

The concept car uses onboard solar panels to help charge the power pack. Savvy tech readers might say, "Haven't we heard this before?" But Odisha's model panels include artificial intelligence to boost efficiency. And the university team claims to have results. The AI helps the direct-current (DC) motor operate with 88 percent efficiency. Spectrum reports that's at least 8 percent better than standard DC motors.

The AI's algorithm calculates temperature and sunlight to help the solar cells generate the right amount of power needed for the vehicle to run, as well as to store in a battery. The calculations are based on "thousands" of temperature and light readings, making the system predictive, as well, per Spectrum. 

Put simply, "when it's sunny, the solar array generates enough power to operate the motor, storing excess energy in the battery. When it's overcast, the motor runs off the battery," Spectrum reports

The concept car also taps kinetic energy. So, using the brakes helps to charge the battery, as well. 

Companies like Aptera are including solar panels on their futuristic-looking vehicles. But mainstream brands like Kia are also tapping sunpower. 

It's all part of the race to provide reliable, fast-charging vehicles that don't need dirty energy sources like oil. The average gas-guzzler produces about 5 tons of air pollution a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

An EV that doesn't even need to tap the electricity grid could provide the cleanest ride yet. But, Odisha's innovation is still only a virtual simulation, according to Spectrum. The next step is creating a physical model. 

"Now we have to charge the electric vehicle at a station or from the home," Mohanty said to Spectrum. "I want a chargeless electric vehicle in which power is taken directly from the solar array [on the vehicle]."

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