Game theory could improve access to electric vehicle charging stations

A dynamic calculation tool that uses game theory could help improve user access to electric vehicle charging stations.

It could make cars more attractive to drivers.

“We already know there is a need for flexible EV charging networks to support EV adoption,” says Leila Hajibabai, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of an article on work in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.

“That’s because there’s huge variability in when and where people want to charge their vehicle, how long they can spend at a charging station, how long it takes to charge their vehicle , etc.

“The fundamental question we wanted to address with this work is: what is the best way to manage the existing charging station infrastructure in order to best meet the demands of electric vehicle users?

To answer this question, the researchers wanted to take the user’s perspective, so they focused on questions important to EV drivers. How long will it take me to reach a charging station? What is the cost of using the charging station? How long do I have to wait to access a charging station? And what sort of fines are there if I stay at a charging station beyond the time limit?

The researchers developed a technique that takes all of these factors into account in a complex computer model that uses a game-theoretic framework.

The technique does two things. First, it helps users find the nearest charging station that meets their needs. Second, it has a dynamic system that charging station operators can use to determine how long vehicles can spend at a charging station before having to make way for the next vehicle.

“These results are themselves dynamic – they evolve as more data comes in on how users use charging facilities,” says Hajibabai.

For example, the closest available charging station to a user may change depending on available spaces. And the amount of time users can spend at a charging station may change from day to day to reflect the reality of using different charging facilities.

“There is no clear real-world benchmark that we can use to gauge how well our technique would improve user access to charging facilities,” says Hajibabai. “But in simulations, the technique improved user access. The simulations also suggested that flexibility in the availability of charging station locations was a key indicator of which stations users would visit.

“A next step would be to work with existing charging station networks to pilot the technique and evaluate its performance in a real environment.”

Source: NC status

Sharon D. Cole