Charged up: BluWave-ai inks deal to help Middle Eastern taxi service manage EV fleet

Dubai Taxi image
Ottawa's BluWave-ai is now working with Dubai Taxi to help the company manage its growing fleet of electric cabs. Photo courtesy Dubai Taxi

An Ottawa cleantech startup that helps utility companies optimize the amount of energy in their grids hopes a new deal with a Middle Eastern taxi service will fuel a breakthrough in the rapidly expanding electric vehicle space.

BluWave-ai said this week it’s begun working with Dubai Taxi to help the company anticipate demand and ensure that its growing fleet of electric cabs is fully charged and ready to go when customers call.

About 200 of the company’s more than 5,000 vehicles are electric Teslas, and Dubai Taxi plans to continue phasing out gas- and diesel-powered cabs as part of its goal of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050.

BluWave founder and CEO Devashish Paul says his firm is using its artificial intelligence platform to crunch Dubai Taxi’s ridership data and get a clearer picture of the ebbs and flows of demand for the service.

Since charging an electric vehicle takes longer than filling up a car with gas, taxi services have to anticipate when cabs won’t be needed on calls and use that down time to replenish their batteries.  

“Taxis sit around a lot waiting for fares. They could be charging then,” Paul explained, adding “you have to know there are going to be no fares to start charging.”

"Taxis sit around a lot waiting for fares. They could be charging then."

The time factor, coupled with the limited inventory of charging stations, means EV fleet managers are increasingly seeking every edge they can find to maximize the vehicles’ use.

“Using live artificial intelligence systems to decide when vehicles can dynamically be charged and dispatched, we see a path to better monetize our investment in our Tesla and EV taxi fleets,” Dubai Taxi assistant managing director Ammar Albraiki said in a statement.

Paul said BluWave’s AI-powered simulator can come up with “a much more optimal approach to charging in real time and getting fares in real time.” 

The Ottawa company is now feeding data into the system so the AI knows what to look for when the platform goes live. Paul wouldn’t give specifics about the contract, only saying he hopes it turns into a long-term deal.

Meanwhile, BluWave has inked agreements with several other EV fleet operators, including New York City’s United Taxi Management and Dallas-based MV Transportation, which provides corporate shuttles, student transport and other services to more than 110 million passengers a year.

Utility customers

The firm’s growing EV customer base also includes Alaska Airlines, which operates hundreds of electric shuttles at airports in the U.S. 

The move into the EV space is a relatively recent development for BluWave, which was founded four years ago to help utility firms manage their power grids.

The company’s solution taps into various sensors across a city’s power sources to monitor and forecast up-to-the-minute energy needs to help utilities use their resources more efficiently and avoid costly penalties. Its customers include Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company.

While Paul says the company is always looking to expand its domestic client roster, he said the firm’s future prosperity depends on building its brand internationally.

“During the pandemic, we needed to go where people already are deploying stuff,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of electric buses or electric taxis in Ottawa. Canada is a bit behind the rest of the world.”

BluWave, which raised $3.9 million in seed funding early last year, is now seeking a multimillion-dollar new round of VC investment and is also considering going public via a reverse takeover as a means of financing its growth agenda. 

“It potentially allows us to really build and scale a Canadian world champion,” Paul told Techopia this summer, adding he expects the startup to double its headcount once the funding is secured. “That’s kind of our goal, is to really build something substantial in Ottawa.”