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GMs’ Future EVs to Use Analog Devices’ Wireless Battery-Management System

Sept. 22, 2020
By reducing the wires within EV batteries by up to 90%, the wBMS lightens the EV substantially, helping lead to longer charging ranges.

Analog Devices (ADI) and General Motors have announced development and adoption of the automotive industry’s first wireless battery-management system (wBMS) for production electric vehicles. Set to debut on GM’s future Ultium-powered electric vehicles, the wBMS will be a primary driver of GM’s ability to ultimately power many different types of electric vehicles from a common set of battery components.

ADI’s wBMS includes all integrated circuits, hardware, and software for power, battery management, RF communication, and system functions in a single system-level product. It supports ASIL-D safety and module-level security, building upon the company’s BMS battery-cell measurement technology. By delivering high accuracy for the lifetime of the vehicle, the system enables maximum energy use per cell required for best vehicle range and supports safe and sustainable zero-cobalt battery chemistries, such as lithium iron phosphate (LFP).

The wBMS is expected to drive GM’s Ultium-powered EVs to market faster, as time won’t be needed to develop specific communications systems or redesign complex wiring schemes for different brands and vehicle segments, from heavy-duty trucks to performance vehicles. It will help GM’s EVs balance chemistry within the individual battery cell groups for optimal performance. What’s more, it can conduct real-time battery-pack health checks and refocus the network of modules and sensors as needed, helping to safeguard battery health over the vehicle’s lifespan.

By reducing wires within the batteries by up to 90%, the wireless system can assist in extending charging range by making lighter vehicles overall and opening up extra room for more batteries. The space and flexibility created by less wires not only enables a cleaner design, but also simpler and more streamlined battery restructuring as needed and more robust manufacturing processes.

Additional system features make it possible for batteries to measure and report their own performance, increasing early failure detection, and enabling optimized battery-pack assembly. The data can be monitored remotely throughout the battery lifecycle—from assembly to warehouse and transport through installation, maintenance, and into a second-life phase. The first automaker to use the technology, GM also will employ wBMS technology to:

  • Allow over-the-air updates and upgrades, such as with smartphone software updates
  • Make battery second-life applications simpler and easier than conventional wired monitoring systems.

“The transition of battery packs from wired to wireless connectivity enables automotive manufacturers to scale their electric-vehicle platforms across multiple vehicle models to meet growing consumer demand,” said Patrick Morgan, Vice President, Automotive at Analog Devices. “Our wBMS solution not only simplifies manufacturing, but also allows new systems to be built on wireless data, accelerating the entire industry towards a sustainable future.”

The wireless battery monitoring system will be standard on all planned GM vehicles powered by Ultium batteries. Much like the large-format, pouch-style cell design of GM’s Ultium batteries, which is flexible enough to incorporate new chemistry over time as technology changes, the wBMS’s basic structure can easily receive new features as software becomes available. With expanded over-the-air updates provided by GM’s new Vehicle Intelligence Platform, the system could even be upgraded with new software-based features via smartphone-like updates.

This wireless system also provides a unique repurposing capability for battery reuse in secondary applications more easily than conventional wired monitoring systems. When the wireless packs are capacity-reduced to the point where they’re no longer ideal for optimum vehicle performance, but still functional as consistent power supplies, they can be combined with other wireless battery packs to form clean power generators. This can be done without a redesign or overhaul of the battery-management system traditionally required in second-life usage.

GM’s wireless BMS is protected by cybersecurity measures that are at the foundation of the company’s Vehicle Intelligence Platform. The DNA of this system includes protective features within the hardware and software layers, including protection of wireless communications.

“ADI’s wBMS technology enables the more widespread electrification of our fleet, and we look forward to a continued collaboration with ADI to deliver innovation in safety, quality, and performance for the future,” said Kent Helfrich, Executive Director, Global Electrification and Battery Systems at General Motors

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