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Electric car charging startup Better Place has long preached its vision of “Car 2.0”, in which the next generation of cars will be networked — both to the power grid and to communication networks — and will have the ease and functionality of our consumer electronics. And this morning at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Better Place has unveiled software that will help deliver that vision, and will be partly developed by partners Microsoft (s MSFT), Intel (s INTC) and German auto company Contintental AG.
Better Place has created a system called “AutOS” (codename) to run inside the vehicle, enabling the cars to crunch energy calculations, deliver an “energy plan” for each driver, and find the closest charging and battery swap station. The cars will all have an “always-on connection” enabling the Better Place network to connect with the vehicle for a variety of reasons (updates, billing, etc).
Continental will make a head unit for Better Place, which will use Microsoft’s “Windows Embedded” software and will be powered by Intel’s Atom processor. Better Place says that because the in-vehicle software is based on an open architecture from the trio, third party developers will be able to build applications on top of AutOS “like the innovations that have sprung from the Apple iPhone.”
Outside of the vehicle, Better Place has long discussed that it would be using sophisticated software to manage the overall network and charging infrastructure. Functions of that software include “smart charging,” or managing the rate at which the electric vehicles are charged, and working with utilities to do so (see our list of 10 electric car smart charging players to watch). There’s also a system that shows the availability of charging and battery switch stations, how charged the drivers battery is, how available clean power is in the driver’s area, traffic patterns and driving habits and patterns.
Better Place is one of a handful of car companies electric vehicle infrastructure players that are looking to emulate the computing development ecosystem and mobile phone. Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith has told us he sees smartphones as the ultimate model for green cars. Nissan (s NSANY) has created a system called EV IT for electric vehicles, which it’s kicking off with the 2010 LEAF electric sedan. The EV IT system uses an onboard transmitting unit connected through mobile networks to a global data center, and Nissan also built an iPhone app for the system to let drivers remotely monitor and control vehicle charging. Like Better Place, Nissan plans to use its EV software to enable drivers will be able to view the driving radius within range of their battery charge level on a navigation map, and also find detailed information about available charging stations within range.