This article was published on January 27, 2022

EV charging software goes open source with Project EVerest

Project EVerest is on a mission to standarize EV charging protocols

EV charging software goes open source with Project EVerest
Cate Lawrence
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Cate Lawrence

Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart ci Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart cities, and the future of alternative energy sources like electric batteries, solar, and hydrogen.

The development and expansion of the EV charging software ecosystem is a critical component to the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles. However, the industry has become complex and fragmented, with multiple isolated solutions and inconsistent technology standards. This slows and threatens the adoption of EVs.

In response, PIONIX has developed a project called EVerest, an open-source software stack designed to establish a common base layer for a unified EV charging ecosystem. 

EVerest has gained some serious cred in the developer world, with its biggest support LF Energy (the Linux open-source foundation for the power systems sector). I spoke to the project’s brainchild, Dr. Marco Möller, managing director of PIONIX, to find out more. 

What’s the problem with EV charging software? 

The idea for EVerst came from Marco Möller’s previous startup, German commercial drone software firm MAVinci (Intel acquired the company in 2016). Möller shared:

We saw over our 10 years in the drone industry that open source software benefited from the power of so many developers, including those from universitiesand their development speed finally outpaced even the largest players in the market.

After the initial founder team left Intel in 2020, they did consulting work with charging manufacturers and found that many engineers were involved in “me too” projects, effectively replicating the same code, even though 99% of the code was already engineered.

Shared open source implementations are vital to mitigate the differences in charging standards globally from CHAdeMo, commonly used by Japanese automakers, to China’s ChaoJi, and  CCS, popular in Europe and the US. 

charging electric car
EV charging protocols can differ making development work needlessly time-consuming. Image source: Unsplash.

Further, every car is slightly different, making it even more urgent to have an open-source solution for the chargers. An open tech stack means developers can focus on more exciting work and bring products to market faster. 

The EVerest EV charging solution

Möller explained that the project had received interest from various players in the EV charging space, except for a few big proprietary players, noting:

Cloud operators were particularly keen on standardization. I was told that the market leader for charge point clouds has more than 200 different dialects implemented of the same protocol. This is because everyone is doing slightly different ChargePoint protocols.

The EVerest software platform runs on a lightweight Linux system inside the charging point. It manages communication around energy between different players:

  • Car (e.g., EN IEC 61851ISO 15118)
  • Local energy generation & batteries (e.g., ModbusSunspec)
  • Grid (including specific grid constraints)
  • Cloud backend / payment (e.g. OCPP 1.6)
  • The user (interface)

EVerest digitally abstracts the complexity of multiple standards and use cases. This means it can run on any device, from AC home chargers to public DC charging stations. This helps facilitate new features for local energy management such as local energy management, PV integration, and initiatives like wind and solar-powered EV stations and bi-directional charging. 

What about the elephant in the machine: security?

open source code EV charging
Code vulnerabilities in open source libraries add a layer of complexity to EV charging software. Image source:Unsplash

There’s been a lot of research about the challenges of securing EV chargers, especially preventing hackers from using them for over or undercharging, committing identity fraud, or damaging the grid.

Vulnerabilities in open-source libraries have increasingly become an attack vector. The insertion of malicious code being inserted into packages in repositories (for example, npm and PyPI) is rising, and the recent Log4j zero-day exploits demonstrate the challenge of code maintenance in open source projects. 

However, having a project under the auspices of The Linux Foundation is an advantage. It especially helps lend credibility increases the number of people working on the code. Möller noted: 

We follow the security standards as well as we can. We have quite an advanced team. They know what they’re doing. We try to do extra security layers. Open source still has the benefit that a lot of people are looking at it. 

The project is also liaising with the hacker enthusiast community to participate in hackathons over the summer months hopefully. As Marco asserts, “these people who break systems for fun.” The team is also raising venture capital, which will go into developing and improving the open-source codebase. 

In short, EVerest welcomes the global community to contribute to this project. Visit the project on GitHub and subscribe to the EVerest general mailing list.

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