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India’s first plug-in hybrid car — Chimera

June 13, 2008

This is something readers would surely enjoy, especially those with an interest in cars! And especially those, who are concerned about rising fuel prices!!

Introducing, Chimera — India’s first plug-in hybrid car! And, I need to thank National Instruments, for this. Not to speak of how proud I am about Bangalore’s RV College of Engineering, whose students have developed the prototype!

Students of RV College of Engineering, Bangalore yesterday unveiled the prototype of Chimera, India’s first plug-in hybrid car for its city roads. The project was undertaken by 11 engineering students from the RV Colege of Engineering, supported by companies such as REVA, National Instruments and Robert Bosch.

This is a unique example of some classic collaborative effort between the university and the industry to ‘facilitate experiential education leading to innovation’.

According to NI, the project code named ‘Chimera’ involved the development of an energy efficient hybrid electric vehicle based on the REVA electric vehicle platform. It is among the very few prototypes that uses both electric energy and bio-diesel, thereby maintaining an eco-friendly tag. The car also has the feature of on-board charging, is fitted with a 440cc diesel engine sourced from Lombardini India and houses a hybrid controller.

National Instruments (NI) supported the students with virtual instrumentation software, hardware and technical training for design and testing of the project.

Using NI LabVIEW-a graphical programming environment and NI CompactDAQ-a USB data acquisition system, the team automated the system completely. NI LabVIEW acts as the brain of the car. It was used to create the user interface on which the driver can monitor conditions of the car such as temperature, battery voltage, rpm, etc, thus acting like an in-vehicle data acquisition system.

NI LabVIEW was also used to program the hardware, NI CompactDAQ, to charge the batteries and provide automatic engine switching functionality. The students plan to make the above automated system a standalone one by moving it onto NI CompactRIO which is an intelligent embedded data acquisition and control system.

Robert Bosch also provided both technical and monetary aid for the project. Chetan Maini, Deputy Chairman & CTO, REVA said that the hybrid electric vehicle is yet to be refined and further developed before commercialization.

Nonetheless, this is a superb development, and the right path toward tackling the growing menace of the escalating fuel prices. We need more such initiatives, more options for hybrid cars and alternatives for hybrid fuels.

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