Will Berry, CANA Principal Program Manager, talks with CANA Digital Media Coordinator Kassie McRostie about his passion for electrifying transportation, the status of the eTHOR program, and how he plans to bring CANA’s Electric Mobility Infrastructure (EMI) Market to life. Join us for an electrifying discussion.
Kassie McRostie (KM): As an advocate of electrification, what excites you and/or worries you about how things are progressing in the United States?
Will Berry (WB): In 2020, just three years back, Electric Vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. passed 250,000 for the first time. This year, the market will jump past 1 million. In Q3, Tesla remains the undisputed leader in EV sales, with Ford a distant #2 on the list, selling just over 20,000 EVs. Most analysts expect a flood of new EVs in the coming three years, with the number of available EV products likely to double by 2027. With this changing landscape, EV sales volume growth in the U.S. is expected to continue. Of late, product availability has grown exponentially, while consumer acceptance has grown in a more linear fashion. Those trends will likely continue, making for some very interesting market dynamics in the years ahead. Change is never easy.
My concerns are the needed volume of infrastructure to be able to satisfy the market and the reliability of that infrastructure. Up-front costs in rural areas can be higher, especially for DCFC stations, since installations in rural areas are more likely to require expensive electrical service upgrades.
KM: Where do you see CANA fitting into this electric mobility market?
WB: CANA can provide integration of, and connection to, the disparate authorities having jurisdiction over electrification opportunities and requirements. Of course, we consider our ability to educate about the market to be a huge capability as well.
KM: What differences do you see between working in the commercial sector and working with federal clients, if any?
WB: Each sector brings its own benefits and complexities. For example, the fiscal year for the Department of Defense (DoD) begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following calendar year. Something so simple has a profound effect on timelines and funding. There’s a lot to understand about Dept of Defense contracting strategies, but the only real way to be more effective is through “doing”. On the other hand, commercial entities have the responsibility of quarterly reporting and must remain flexible to ever changing market conditions.
Regardless, I think it comes down to people and communicating.
KM: Can you give us a quick overview of the eTHOR project you’re working on?
WB: eTHOR is an acronym for the Electric Tactical Humanitarian Operations Resource. It evolved from a program called THOR. It was developed by Verizon Frontline as an advanced network technology built for first responders, and developed over three decades of partnership with the public safety community. The Verizon communication stack was harnessed on a modified Ford 650 - an enormous truck. It showed great promise right away to support humanitarian disaster situations.
It’s important to note this was estimated as a three year project build which got reduced to an 18-month delivery. So with development completed, a number of people, including former Marine LtCol Brandon Newell, had the vision to develop something that keeps the core attributes of mobile communications, but on a smaller, yet still powerful, battery electric vehicle platform and a smaller, powerful, communication set. And that’s what led us to our stakeholder team of DANNAR and AWS. With the tight timeline, a key focus was development that was utilizing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.
KM: What does eTHOR bring to the table that sets it apart?
WB: Regarding eTHOR, I mentioned it was developed from proven COTS technologies that, when integrated together, are like a Swiss Army knife of capabilities. It provides exportable energy and a powerful communication platform that, in turn, can have ancillary tools added such as radar and sensors. One of the things I feel very fortunate about with the eTHOR project is the dedicated stakeholders I worked with to collectively develop it. It starts from the top with governmental leadership and funding from Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) and Naval Information Warfare Center-Pacific. Without those two organizations leaning in, it never would have happened and on such a short timeline.
There was also great leadership with our commercial stakeholders, namely DANNAR and AWS. These two companies are on the leading edge of their respective technologies. Over the past two years our partnerships on the eTHOR prototype have resulted in an all electric, zero emission, 375 kWh rugged, mobile and exportable power station - the DANNAR Mobile Power Source (MPS) - coupled with an AWS Innovation, Connectivity and Experimentation (ICE) platform that supports IoT methodology, Private 4G LTE / 5G connectivity, multiple commercial connectivity options via TERRA, to include Satcom (Starlink), and commercial connectivity options. What’s particularly exciting are that elements of the eTHOR are now actively supporting real-world operations.
KM: What about CANA? What makes it unique to you?
WB: With CANA, I think it has always been about people, expertise, and relationships. It’s how you get things done. eTHOR is a great example of that.
KM: What does the future look like for eTHOR and the partnership with CANA?
WB: Our team’s modeling, simulation, and analysis of eTHOR and its capabilities are ongoing. We are also continuing to conduct eTHOR demonstrations to show a broader military and civilian audience the capabilities of the eTHOR platform and to gain feedback from potential end users. That might include input from soldiers who could possibly use the eTHOR in a future battlespace, or it might be feedback from a civilian public safety officer who is helping a local community in a myriad of safety-related activities. In fact, we will be bringing eTHOR to Southern California in a few short weeks for a live demonstration to stakeholders. We’re always looking for opportunities to impress upon people eTHOR’s potential.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion with Will Berry in an upcoming CANA podcast! If you want to know more - now - about the CANA EMI Initiative or the eTHOR project, you can reach out to Will Berry at: firstname.lastname@example.org