Information technology developed for banks and telecoms companies is playing a key role in the world's first telematics system for production electric vehicles.
New Smith Telemetry will allow fleet managers of Smith electric vehicles to monitor battery status and other on-board information.
New Smith Telemetry will allow fleet managers of Smith electric vehicles to monitor battery status and other on-board information.

Smith Telemetry collates and interprets more than 1,800 data sets from each EV's drive line, controller and battery management system, along with a GPS tracker. For the first time, a fleet manager can know precisely how much battery power is left in each of their vehicles, at the push of a button. This allows fleets to maximize the use of their EVs and makes the vehicles more accommodating for unscheduled, additional trips.

Other EV telematics exist for development or pre-production vehicles, but Smith Telemetry is the first system for EVs that are on the road today, according to the company.

In fleets of conventional diesel or petrol-powered vehicles, telematics is used primarily as a vehicle tracking device. Because electric vehicles have much more sophisticated vehicle management systems, fleet managers can use telematics to monitor additional elements like battery charge. Telemetry can also monitor battery performance down to individual cells, ensuring any potential issues are quickly identified and fixed.

When Smith Electric Vehicles, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles, began designing its Smith Telemetry system, it realized the huge volume of data signals generated by each vehicle would require either massive investment in servers, or third party support.

StormMQ's innovative machine-to-machine message queuing was designed for banks and finance houses, as a secure and cost-effective method of collating and conveying highly confidential data. It works by storing the data in a 'cloud' and releasing it in a steady stream, so the recipient's server does not get overloaded.

The same StormMQ technology now allows Smith Telemetry to collect 27,500 messages a second, delivering them on a managed basis to the Smith server. StormMQ was awarded the contract based on affordability, scalability and ease of implementation. It is now in operation for Smith Electric Vehicles in both the UK and the USA.

"The sheer volume of messages was a significant issue for us, along with the requirement to rapidly scale up, as we roll out more vehicles to customers around the world," said Robin Mackie, chief technical officer of Smith Electric Vehicles U.S.

Smith U.S. expects to install more than 500 Smith Newton electric trucks with Smith Telemetry by 2011, as part of a $32 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.