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Optimisation for Wireless Powered Infrastructure


   Department of Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Introduction

We are investigating future adoption pathways for novel wireless charging infrastructure where electric vehicles can charge wirelessly while stationary or even driving. In this context we will conduct research into the placement and configuration of wireless charging systems. We will optimise placement of charging infrastructure on roadways for urban and intercity travel. Particular vehicle fleets may have different needs that need to be catered for. For instance an electric taxi service might charge while waiting for passengers, whereas a bus service could charge at stops, traffic lights or on particularly steep hills. Models for different transport systems (urban, inter-urban) will be developed and used to optimise placement of charging infrastructure to identify a best value for money solution to support electrification of the transport system. In addition, we will study the special case of high mileage commercial vehicle fleets (taxis, delivery services) that often operate in urban areas with high potential impact on air quality through electrification. To tackle these challenges we will develop optimization-simulation approaches building on new and existing simulation models, for instance for electric taxi services. We will also develop mathematical models (e.g. for public transport systems) that can be solved by conventional mathematical programming solvers or by applying newly developed math-heuristics. In addition to Operations Research (Optimization) techniques, there may also be an opportunity to draw on data science and machine learning tools to achieve the project goals. 

Over the past 5 years, the NZ government has recognised the critical importance that wireless power brings to the uptake of electric vehicles and the associated benefits such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved urban air quality. A large multidisciplinary team is working together to develop robust roadway charging systems for EVs. The team comprises experts from the University of Auckland’s power electronics research group, the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, the Transportation Research Centre and the Energy Centre, as well as several departments including Engineering Science, working together with materials engineers at GNS Science and Victoria University in Wellington.

A recent MBIE Endeavour grant supports this work for a further 5 years focusing on the entire transportation fleet, including commercial fleet and heavy-duty vehicles to enable wireless fast chargers at off-road hubs and wireless power to the vehicle while it is on the move, from within selected roadways. This wider collaboration includes researchers from Auckland University of Technology, University of Cambridge UK, and a close collaboration with ASPIRE, a large multi-university NSF funded Engineering Research Centre in the USA. The team will also work closely with industry partners within NZ and globally.

Implementation of wireless charging relies upon the development of novel electronic, magnetic and mechanical (and for in-road pavement ready) designs that are fit for purpose (thermally and mechanically robust, and efficient in operation over their lifespan). It also relies on suitable sizing and placement to ensure operational efficiency and economic viability of electric transportation in urban and rural communities. This new research aims to provide solutions for large buses and trucks that help reduce their battery weight and charging times while extending driving range, to help NZ meet its future electrified transportation and emissions goals.

As part of this larger project the Department of Engineering Science and the transport modelling team have a fully funded PhD opportunity available to conduct research on the optimal placement and configuration of wireless charging systems. The research will include both the modelling of transport systems and the use of these models to identify optimal placement and configuration of wireless chargers. We will consider the impact of wireless charging on road networks, electricity networks and the environment.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

- Background in Engineering Science, Industrial Engineering, or similar; Or Science, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science or similar.

- Experience in Optimisation / Operations Research / Analytics / Applied Mathematics required. Experience with simulation and / or transport modelling is an advantage but not a requirement. Programming experience is a requirement.

- Postgraduate degree (e.g. ME) not required but could be a bonus.

- Evidence of an outstanding academic track record, research skills and technical writing.

Objectives

The PhD student will conduct research into the placement and configuration of wireless charging systems. We will investigate the optimal placement of charging infrastructure on roadways for urban and intercity travel. Particular vehicle fleets may have different needs that will be modelled. For instance an electric taxi service might charge while waiting for passengers, whereas a bus service could charge at stops, traffic lights or on particularly steep hills. Models for different transport systems (urban, inter-urban) will be developed and used to optimise placement of charging infrastructure to identify a best value for money solution to support electrification of the transport system. In addition, we will study the special case of high mileage commercial vehicle fleets (taxis, delivery services) that often operate in urban areas with high potential impact on air quality through electrification.

Specific areas of research focus include:

- Investigate the optimal placement of IPT facilities on a road network under mixed traffic conditions based on an integration of optimisation and simulation models of the Auckland motorway network.

- Identify optimal wireless charging configuration for urban commercial electric fleets. We will investigate how a fleet of electric taxis or shuttles can best be supported by a combination of wireless and dynamic charging infrastructure considering location and setup (power level and frequency) of charging systems. We will also investigate how a public bus transport system can be transitioned to fully electric with support of wireless charging infrastructure.

- The electrification of urban and intercity road networks for commercial fleets will be studied with a focus on freight transport within New Zealand’s North Island.

Other information

The position may be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found.


Funding Notes

Fully funded

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