The team at FreeWire Technologies envisions a world equipped with a large-scale electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, and the San Francisco Bay Area-based company is developing solutions to make that vision a reality.
Enter FreeWire’s first product, the Mobi Charger, a mobile EV charging solution that uses onboard batteries to create networks of grid-smart EV chargers. What makes the Mobi — developed with software including Autodesk Fusion 360 and Autodesk AutoCAD from the Autodesk Cleantech Partner Program — even more intriguing is that the batteries powering it are second-life, lithium-ion batteries saved from disposal.
FreeWire believes EV charging doesn’t need to come only from typical stationary chargers. That’s where the Mobi Charger comes into play, and FreeWire’s solutions go a step further integrating EV charging with grid-level and building-level energy management. For its innovative approach to EV charging, FreeWire is being recognized as the Autodesk Inventing the Future recipient for June.
Autodesk seeks Inventing the Future candidates each month from its Manufacturing customer base through a brief Q&A interview on a company or individual addressing their business, products and inventive spirit. Here is what FreeWire CEO Arcady Sosinov had to say about developing solutions leveraging Autodesk software:
Autodesk: What does your company develop, and why is it important for the world?
Sosinov: FreeWire creates innovative energy storage solutions using second-life EV batteries. The company saves lithium-ion batteries from disposal by working directly with automotive OEMs to repurpose their advanced battery packs.
FreeWire’s first product is the Mobi, a mobile EV charger that not only brings mobility to the currently stationary EV charging scene but also addresses the pain points around large-scale charging infrastructure. Customers can now scale up their EV charging capacity quickly without needing broad physical electrical infrastructure upgrades. The Mobi also generates energy cost savings by allowing customers to use energy stored at off-peak rates from the grid to charge vehicles during peak times.
Autodesk: How has adopting technology helped your company evolve?
Sosinov: We’ve explored a number of technologies to determine what solves the most customer pain points involved in establishing EV charging infrastructure. FreeWire’s core belief centers on customer discovery creating a quick feedback loop and helping foster faster product iteration. From wireless charging to robotics and energy storage, FreeWire has pivoted continuously through the product development life cycle. Today, the team has chosen to focus on helping to solve our country’s energy problem by applying an innovative service-based business model (second-life EV batteries) to a fast-growing demand for distributed generation.
Autodesk: What Autodesk software do you use and why?
Sosinov: The team uses AutoCAD and Fusion 360, which we received through the Autodesk Cleantech Partner Program. The frame, base and exterior plastics are all custom-built using models created in AutoCAD. A file goes directly from design to production thanks to the ubiquity of AutoCAD in the market. Our engineers have been using AutoCAD for more than a decade and love how Autodesk has introduced new features in a familiar interface. The layout of the interior components is mocked-up in AutoCAD as well to ensure optimal fit and to serve as a template for assembly.
Using Fusion 360, FreeWire currently focuses on rendering to create photorealistic images of the Mobi Charger and Mobi Gen. However, as we've become more familiar with the product we've realized how much more powerful it is. Some of the work we currently do in AutoCAD and then import to Fusion 360. Employees who aren't familiar with AutoCAD can get up to speed really quickly on Fusion 360. This quick learning curve allows more of us to contribute so more work gets done. We’ve yet to expand into simulation and machining, but we understand how powerful those tools are once we scale up production past small-batch manufacturing.
Autodesk: How do you see your company five years from now? In 10 years?
Sosinov: In five to ten years, FreeWire will be the commercial partner for several major automotive OEMs to create energy storage systems using repurposed lithium-ion packs. I envision FreeWire being the focal point of the “smart garage,” where a vehicle is connected to a wall-mounted energy storage system that then provides ancillary services to both the home and the utility. Customers save on energy costs, and utilities add flexibility to the grid. Automakers also benefit by creating a value chain for their batteries.
Autodesk: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you? [You fill in blank with your occupation.]
Sosinov: Being an entrepreneur is understanding how to make the best possible decision using very limited resources. However, while most people will focus on capital as the most important resource, I believe that information is even more important. Entrepreneurs are faced with a dilemma every day: how do you make the right decision when you don’t have all the variables in front of you? It can be a daunting task, but a good entrepreneur has the experience and foresight (and, honestly, the courage) to make those decisions and follow through with them.
Check out this video to see the FreeWire Mobi Charger in action.
Do you think you have what it takes to be recognized by Autodesk for Inventing the Future? If so, send in your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.