The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) on Wednesday announced up to $32 million in funding for what it called “10 innovative projects,” part of its newest program: Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR).
With a goal of reducing individual vehicle energy usage by 20 percent, NEXTCAR projects will take advantage of the increasingly complex and connected systems in today’s—and tomorrow’s—cars and trucks to drastically improve their energy efficiency.
“Today cars and trucks are increasingly being outfitted with new technology that provides information about the vehicle’s environment, mostly to make them safer and to help drivers with basic tasks,” said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. “As our vehicles become creators and consumers of more and more data, we have a transformative opportunity to put that new information to the additional use of saving energy in our road transportation system.”
By “co-optimizing” the interactions between vehicle dynamic controls, like accelerator and braking input, and powertrain controls that manage engines, motors and transmissions, NEXTCAR technologies offer efficiency-boosting solutions like smarter cruise control and vehicle speed harmonization, or energy-saving options for approaching and departing from traffic signals, said the agency.
By integrating these systems with data from emerging CAV technologies, vehicles will be able to predict future driving conditions and events like changing road grade or the interactions with other vehicles merging from multiple intersections.
If successful, NEXTCAR technologies will improve the energy efficiency of future connected and automated vehicles by at least 20 percent beyond other planned vehicle efficiency technologies, said ARPA-E.