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Vehicle energy consumption prediction

The convergence of modern sensor technologies and the maturation of real-time web capabilities, together with the need to develop a more efficient transportation network, has made accurate vehicle energy consumption prediction a reality, opening up a wide range of potential efficiency boosting applications. Transportation accounts for approximately one-third of all energy used in the United States, and it largely relies upon oil to meet its needs.

Moreover, it is estimated that traffic congestion alone in the US accounts for over 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline wasted every year. Previous studies have constructed detailed models for vehicle fuel consumption, and others have linked these models to dynamic traffic conditions to predict the most fuel efficient routes. A practical model for scaling these approaches to be useful in real world applications, though, is yet to be developed.

Reduce transportation based energy usage

Two key approaches could significantly reduce transportation based energy usage. First, limiting traffic congestion would lower fuel use while also avoiding the associated wasted time and economic output. Second, the introduction and widespread adoption of more efficient vehicles into the mix, such as Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV’s) as well as Battery Electric Vehicles (EV’s), could reduce emissions. Due to the limited energy density of current battery technology as compared to gasoline, the cost-effective single-charge range of many new EV’s is approximately one-third of traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, leading to so-called “range anxiety” among prospective EV customers. PHEV’s utilize two separate energy sources directly, and so offer the best of both worlds. However, there an opportunity to improve performance by intelligently optimizing the ICE  and electric motor power split based on road conditions.

Related Stories and links:

U.S. Department of Transportation Broad Agency Announcement on Intelligent Transportation Systems: http://www.its.dot.gov/aeris/baa_factsheet.htm

Image Source and UB Transportation Project Could Help Region Manage Traffic During Bad Weather: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/12069