A person who drives 60 miles to work every day has different needs than someone who drives across town. So instead of designing electric cars to match the performance of petroleum-powered vehicles, researchers at Carnegie Mellon‘s ChargeCar initiative think that EVs should be designed for individual commuting needs. To that end, ChargeCar hopes to create a so-called “commute ecology” based on crowdsourced data to develop EVs for different types of commutes.

The ChargeCar team converted a gas-powered vehicle to an EV that contains a supercapacitor storage device and uses artificial intelligence to manage electricity flow between the engine, battery, and supercapacitor. But the team doesn’t want to bring their car to market. They’re hoping to use crowdsourced GPS data uploaded to the ChargeCar website to develop a massive database of commuting information that provides info on the energy costs of using gasoline versus electricity for different routes.

So far, the ChargeCar initiative has 3,821 miles of commuting data collected. Eventually, the data could be used to create custom gas-to-electric conversion kits for different types of vehicles and routes. And instead of costing upwards of $50,000, these conversions could cost as little as $8,000 — a price that’s hard to argue with if the fuel savings add up.

Want to help out with the ChargeCar project? You can upload your own GPS commuting data here.

+ ChargeCar

Via BusinessWeek