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Software Teaches Hybrids When (and When Not) to Go Electric


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A Volvo V60 hybrid vehicle.

Software described in a recent doctoral dissertation could help hybrid vehicles optimize their battery usage.

Credit: Volvo

Chalmers University of Technology Ph.D. Viktor Larsson has written a doctoral dissertation describing software that would help hybrid vehicles optimize battery usage.

Larsson says the software could help hybrids save an additional 10 percent in fuel. His model begins with a log of day-to-day driving statistics to predict the route, then determines in real time where the car is on the route and optimizes battery versus engine output at every point. The log is sent to a server that determines the power split for commonly traveled routes so the vehicle can select minimal details such as time of day to pick which plan to implement.

Larsson modeled his system on a hybrid Volvo model in which an electric motor drives the rear wheels and a combustion engine drives both the front wheels and a generator. "Say you're traveling 50 miles," he says. "After 25, you might want to have a 60 percent charge left, and after 35 miles, some smaller percentage. The model can set a trajectory specifying whatever you want, and you could get quite good fuel economy."

Automakers such as Volvo and Ford, as well as technology firms such as Google, are looking into route optimization, Larsson notes. He is considering turning his model into a smartphone app.

From IEEE Spectrum
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