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Project focusing on heavy-duty trucks is part of national effort to reduce fuel consumption

Project focusing on heavy-duty trucks is part of national effort to reduce fuel consumption

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College or School: CoE
Article Type: Article
Purdue University is leading part of a national effort to reduce vehicle fuel consumption by 20 percent. They plan to use automated systems that connect the infrastructure of cars and trucks using sensors and online cloud technology.

The Purdue-led team will receive $5 million over three years for its project, which began in March.

The NEXTCAR team in Purdue's Herrick Lab. At right, Neera Jain, assistant professor of mechanical engineering talks with Greg Shaver, professor of mechanical engineering and principal investigator. Left: PhD students Cody Allen and Alex Taylor help maintain testing equipment.
(Photo: Mark Simons/Purdue University)

The team will be focusing on tractor-trailers, and will work with team members Cummins Inc., Peloton Technology, Peterbilt Motors Co. and others.

“This is the ideal marriage of the public and private sectors to the mutual benefit of both,” says Suresh Garimella, executive vice president for research and partnerships.

The team includes Neera Jain, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Daniel DeLaurentis, professor of aeronautics and astronautics; Shaoshuai Mou, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and Srinivas Peeta, the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor in Civil Engineering.

“Each of these faculty members will bring specialized expertise in complex system analysis and algorithm development,” says Shaver.

The vehicles will tap into forward-looking information that reveals road and traffic conditions miles ahead. Each truck will be connected to a cloud-based network operations center, enabling access to information from crowd-sourced traffic data, road-grade maps and weather services.

Shaver says, “they are going to be able to react much more quickly, and safely, than a human driver could.”

New algorithms will allow “platooning” for trucks, which is much like positioning racecars close to each other to reduce aerodynamic drag.

“It’s also the same thing that happens when you have a cluster of bicycles, called a peloton, in competitive racing,” said Shaver, the project’s principal investigator. “They come together like that because together they reduce the drag on each other.”

Peloton Technology’s platooning system provides a wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications link between the throttle and braking systems of pairs of trucks, allowing the trucks to coordinate speeds and maintain a safe, aerodynamic following distance. Now, platooning with Peloton’s technology results in average fuel savings of 7 percent. Enhanced algorithms promise to boost average fuel savings from platooning to as much as 13 percent.

The team will demonstrate the technology by the end of the three-year project.