From software to sea: eD-TEC showcases the technology behind its pioneering eD-QDrive scalable electric drive system during METS 2022
eD-TEC showcases the eD-QDrive integrated electric drive system at METS
With its ultra-efficient mounting solution, simple plug-and-play drive interface, and integrated technology backbone that extends from surface-drive propeller through the AI Box and battery bank to the helm interface, the eD-QDrive – displayed at Metstrade as a complete system for the first time – marks the future of yachting.
The system, designed and developed by the ‘Believer Team’ at exciting German start-up company eD-TEC (founded by former VW Group chief strategist Michael Jost and supported by Mike and Marc Jost along with several expert technology partners), has been conceived to offer an electric drive solution to the boating industry for yachts from small dayboats and tenders to performance cruisers up to 30 metres in length.
It achieves this thanks to the modular and scalable design of the eD-QDrive units themselves and the high-C-rate battery bank, which allows for up to quad eD-QDrive installations for a power range from 50kW to 2,400kW, and a modular battery bank that offers power from 80kWh to 320kWh.
The company’s display at Metstrade provided the opportunity not only to display the holistic drive system and show its ease of installation for boatbuilders, but also to discuss in more detail the six pillars behind the eD-TEC platform which marks a technological leap forward for electric drives in the boating industry.
“Michael [Jost] really drove the change in the automotive industry and pushed the transformation of the entire VW brand,” says Marc Jost, Chief Strategy Officer at eD-TEC. “But there’s a clear mismatch between transforming the automotive into a more sustainable market and then hopping on a vessel and blowing out diesel fumes. That led us to think about how one can achieve a sustainable drive train – or a sustained, measured method of propulsion – without sacrificing convenience, performance or range.”
The technical platform
The platform design builds on six core principles which make up the eD-Tec Technology Stack. These start with the development of the best system Backbone in which all components (propellers, gearbox, et al) operate in their optimal window.
Second comes the hull, which would be developed in tandem with the shipyard and designed according to the principle of ‘go faster to go further’ by reducing drag. This is achieved typically by developing a lightweight and efficient hull enhanced with a stepped hull design or with foiling technology.
Third is the drive train itself. Central to this is the use of axial flux technology – an advanced solution that offers a high performance-to-weight ratio – as opposed to the radial flux technology which is heavier but cheaper to produce and therefore the type commonly used in other electric drive systems. Using axial flux technology means that the 100kW eD-QDrive unit weighs only 20kg, with the entire drivetrain coming in at only 100kg. Moreover, with all components contained within the stern unit which attaches to the Backbone through a simple plug-and-play interface, convenience and ease of installation is maximised for boatbuilders.
Fourth is the application of E3/AI/AD principles found in the automotive world, which essentially is the end-to-end electronics set-up of the platform that delivers access to the firmware of every component via a central AI Box, coupled to cloud-based connectivity and analysis. This ultimately allows for not only data on the controlling and optimising of various components but also for the addition of elements like LIDAR in the future for assisted docking and even autonomous driving.
Fifth is a software-driven platform which enables over-the-air updates of the system and equipment, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, and continual system improvement underpinned by the sixth pillar, which draws on a subscription model for software updates and upgrades. For example, this might involve unlocking a power upgrade in real time for a performance boost when cruising.
“To offer the best product or experience to the end customer, you need the best overall system using the best components,” says Marc Jost. “We basically created a network of believers to really develop this technology platform. Our philosophy is ‘enjoy sustainable’, with the notion at its core that sustainability and comfort, convenience and mobility are not mutually exclusive.
“With the AI and software elements, we use similar principles to the electric vehicle industry where the hardware already installed can be upgraded as software is developed, enhanced by the continual data gathering and analysis in the cloud. That also allows for the entire system healthcare, predictive maintenance and scheduling downtime to happen in advance and not in the time the customer wants to be using the vessel. Finally, the stackable battery banks run on an 800-volt bus which is future-proofed as you need the high voltage to offer fast charging capability. Our Technology Stack also includes the ability for two-way vessel-to-vessel charging, which will be available from 2024.”
The eD-QDrive system is available now for boatbuilders and other interested parties, and the first example of the system, installed in a 28-foot RIB, is due to be launched before the end of 2022.
eD-TEC is also available for discussions with any potential investors who want to join the Believer Team and help accelerate not only the growth of eD-TEC itself but also the drive to more sustainable electric boating.