A serious games based investigation into electric vehicle user behavior
Charging behaviour models would form a key part in a holistic city scale electro-mobility simulation. Charging service providers can optimise their operation strategy through knowledge about the charging behaviour of EV owners; on the other hand, the charging behaviour itself could be affected by these optimisations. However, due to poor availability of high resolution, high-fidelity real world user data on charging behaviour, building a realistic model is difficult.
In the context of charging behaviour models, data regarding preferences for charging time and location would be essential. Surveys offer a low cost and time effective method form of data collection. However, survey responses have been shown to be biased. The survey designer needs to ensure that the questions have a consistent meaning to all respondents. People tend to choose any answer even when they do not know the correct one. More importantly, survey is limited in terms of the complexity of the scenarios that can be investigated.
With the proliferation of smart phones and smart devices of other kinds, sensors could be an invaluable source of user data. However, currently, due to low EV adoption, the kind of user data necessary for studying charging behaviour is limited. Analysis of real world data only provides insight into a particular setting of the environment. For example, comparing different pricing models or planning for charging infrastructure development strategies would be impossible by simply using sensors. Moreover, causal conclusions are difficult to derive from observational data.
Serious games seem to be a promising approach for behaviour model identification. This new discipline focuses on the utilisation of game technologies and approaches in a non-entertainment context. Serious games offer the player a richer and more immersive context where he acts more naturally and intuitively. Also, unlike sensor based real world data collection, virtual environments provide researchers with a lot more freedom in environment creation. Through carefully crafted experiments, this added flexibility can help provide deeper insights into reasons for certain actions. The game that was developed in order to study charging behaviour will be discussed in more detail in a future blog post.