University of Pittsburgh is one of four campuses in the country selected to test the Innova Dash, a smiling, electric smart mobile that will power up the biggest hills on campus with unprecedented connectivity.
While powerful electric vehicles are nothing new, the Innova Dash’s unique feature is its ability to network with the world around it, says Ervin Sejdic, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, which is leading the research at Pitt.
The project is part of Internet2’s university electric vehicle (UEV) project, a global advanced research consortium, that hopes to raise awareness of the “Internet of Everything,” a concept that suggests that everyday objects and things, like cars, may one day be virtually connected to everything else.
In this case, the four smart mobiles are connected through Wifi to researchers, students and each other. They also collect and store data.
“It’s really like a computer on wheels,” says Brian Stengel with Computing Services and Systems Development at Pitt, the project manager and outreach coordinator for the UEV project. “It will run different kinds of software code. The solar power will be a backup source feeding the electronics.”
“What we are really doing with these cars is the evolution of the Internet of Everything,” adds Sejdic. “These are baby steps to explore fundamental research questions. This is the beginning of an era when we are going to see smart sensors all around us.”
The computing power alone is impressive. The Innova Dash’s network is so advanced it’s capable of transmitting the entire printed holdings of the Library of Congress—420 terabytes-worth of data—in under nine hours compared to five weeks, which is about how long it would take using an average residential connection.
The vehicles have solid sustainability ratings too. They are 100% electric and emissions free, use less gas than gas-powered vehicles for an estimated annual operating savings of $2042. The battery life is 12,500-75,000 miles depending on whether a lead gel or lithium ion battery pack is used.
Plus it’s sporty.
Two cars will go to Pitt’s engineering school and one each will be used by computing services and systems and parking. The researchers and students will put the cars through their paces. Results will be shared for use in future improvements.
The only dilemma now is giving everyone a turn at the wheel. “The new chancellor has expressed an interest in driving one. Mayor Peduto wants to try it out, too,” says Sejdic.
“We’ve joked about seeing who’s going to fit inside one of these things,” adds Stengel. “Actually there’s a decent amount of space in there.”
Check out the video here.
Follow the Dash’s progress at #DriveGreenPitt.