Stash this one in the "we don't see a downside to this" department.

UC Riverside researchers are developing a navigation system specifically geared towards cutting fuel use and, in some cases, increasing electric-vehicle driving range.

Instead of merely plotting out directions to a certain destination, the so-called "eco-routing" navigation system would also factor in things like traffic, topography and road type to provide the route that may not be the shortest, but would be easiest on the right foot. For instance, the driver may be directed to avoid either an area with stop and go traffic or a hill climb in order to get to a destination using less gas or electricity. Other issues, such as weather and cargo weight, would also be factored into the range estimate.

Such a system would be good for everyone, but especially useful for electric-vehicle drivers, since those extra few miles could mean the difference between getting home and needing to call AAA for a charge. Some of the money the researchers at the university's Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) are using comes from a California Energy Commission grant.
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Extending the Range of Electric Vehicles
Researchers believe GPS-like device that takes into account real-time traffic information, road type and grade and passenger and cargo weight can increase range by at least 10 percent
By Sean Nealon On JULY 18, 2012

Prototype eco-routing navigation system installed in a passenger car.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( - Researchers at the University of California, Riverside believe they can extend the range of electric vehicles by at least 10 percent by taking into account real-time traffic information, road type and grade and passenger and cargo weight.

The researchers, who work at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), which is part of the Bourns College of Engineering, have received a nearly $95,000 one-year grant from the California Energy Commission to develop a eco-routing algorithm that finds the route requiring the least amount of energy for a trip.

"This is particularly useful given the limited range of electric vehicles," said Guoyuan Wu, an assistant researcher at CE-CERT and the principal investigator on the project. "It should really help cut down on what has become known as range anxiety."

Wu will be assisted by co-principal investigators Matthew Barth, director of CE-CERT and the Yeager Families Professor of Engineering, and Kanok Boriboonsomsin, a research faculty member at CE-CERT.

The work on electric vehicles builds upon research by Barth and Boriboonsomsin. They found eco-routing navigation systems can potentially reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in fossil fuel-powered by 5 to 15 percent.

Most electric vehicles have a manufacturer estimated range of 100 miles or greater. However, range can vary drastically. For example, the range of the Nissan LEAF may vary between 47 and 138 miles depending on driving conditions, such as air temperature, traffic congestion and road grade, according to EPA testing.

In the last decade, there has been a proliferation of GPS-guided navigation systems that assist drivers on which routes to take to their destination. Most attempt to minimize distance traveled. But, in many cases that route doesn't minimize energy consumption or emissions.
Newer generation navigation systems use predicted travel time. But, even the shortest-time route doesn't ensure the minimum energy consumption or emissions.

A number of factors affect vehicle energy consumption, including:
  • Traffic conditions: Stop-and-go movement in congested traffic wastes fuel. So, the vehicle energy consumption increases significantly under this traffic condition.
  • Road type: Driving patterns on different road types are different. For example, driving on highways often involves cruising at higher speeds. Driving on surface streets often involves more frequent stops due traffic signals, stop signs and more idling. These differences have significant impacts on vehicle energy consumption.
  • Road grade: Climbing a steep road grade requires higher power from the engine to overcome the added gravitational force. This increases vehicle energy consumption.
  • Weight: A vehicle carrying more weight requires more energy to run, thus impacting its energy consumption rate.
  • Weather conditions: Weather conditions have direct and indirect impact on energy consumption. For instance, headwind increases vehicle energy consumption as the vehicle needs additional power to combat the wind drag. And, using the heater or air condition during hot or cold weather also increases energy consumption.
With the grant from the California Energy Commission, energy consumption data will be collected when an electric vehicle is driven under a variety of real-world driving conditions, including different vehicle speeds, traffic congestion levels, road types, and road grades, with varying number of passengers.

Tables created from the data will be used to develop real-time energy consumption estimate models for the test electric vehicle. The models will then be integrated into an eco-routing algorithm.

The algorithm will then be incorporated into a prototype eco-routing navigation system, which will resemble a small computer screen and be placed on the dashboard. Once in place, testing using an electric vehicle will begin.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Use the Waze app on your smart phone to do about the same thing. Well, it does alert you about the traffic thing. I wish they would work with UC to add in the eco-nav, and the DOT to add in where their traffic sensors are. When will car makers just start integrating iPads/iPhones into the dash? In 10 years it will be interesting at where the technology will get to.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Richard Lam
      • 8 Months Ago
      I've been doing this with my head ever since I got my Volt, in order maximize my EV range. I've been wishing for a nav system on that Volt that could adjust the engine turn on and off, based on expected speed of the route so that it takes into account the efficiency between electric and gas drive versus total trip distance. So say there was a route that was 50 miles, and I only had 40 miles of EV range, I would want the system to turn on the engine for 10 miles on the freeway, while going EV the rest of the way....that would maximize efficiency even better in my opinion...
      • 8 Months Ago
      I already miss the days when I could enjoy the ride and scenery, instead of staring at a computer screen.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Uh-oh - besides containing deadly mercury that requires complicated cleanup procedures, CFLs (twisty light bulbs) also emit deadly UV radiation! Two separate articles on the scientific study - one from Europe, so it must be true.
        • 8 Months Ago
        'The European report had found that some CFLs emit UV radiation, which under prolonged exposures at short distances (less than 8 inches) may approach the workplace limit set to protect workers from skin and retinal damage.' Considering their mercury content as well, if I were you I would give up both sticking your head against the lampshade and eating the bulbs. Either is less harmful though than the damage to neurons consequent on reading the 'Daily Mai'.
          • 8 Months Ago
          Everything is better in Europe. I refuse to hear you blasphleme Europe.
          • 8 Months Ago
          A European report from a European newspaper. That means it has to be trusted and true. Europeans.... They don't lie, man...
          • 8 Months Ago
          EZEE: I hope you are fully committed to their wonderful currency, The Euro!
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