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Department of Energy funding to accelerate research on vehicle efficiency, optimization

The Ohio State University announced today that it was awarded $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding will be used to optimize fuel efficiency by leveraging electric-hybrid engine controls with Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF®) cylinder deactivation and vehicle interconnectivity and automation.

Within the university, research will be led by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in collaboration with the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“CAR and its partners, Delphi, Tula Technology and TRC Inc. form a team with considerable depth of experience and innovative practices in powertrain control systems and in connected and automated vehicles,” said CAR Director Giorgio Rizzoni. “This project will give the team the opportunity to lead the way in creating new standards in vehicle fuel economy and intelligence.”

In addition to Rizzoni, project leaders include Engineering Professors Levent Guvenc, Marcello Canova and Abhishek Gupta.

Along with industry partners, Ohio State’s team will develop a transformational vehicle dynamics and powertrain controls solution that leverages the novel cylinder deactivation approach developed by Tula Technology combined with electrification to significantly improve vehicle energy efficiency. Further reductions in fuel consumption will be attained through connectivity and combined function automation using knowledge of the upcoming driving environment and conditions to maximize efficiency.

“This program showcases the role of the Center for Automotive Research in bringing together faculty with cross-disciplinary and complementary expertise, and in collaborating with industry,” said Canova. “Our work over the next three years will pave the way to a new generation of vehicles, where connectivity and automation are deeply integrated with powertrain controls, significantly impacting fuel economy and CO2 emissions.”

According to Guvenc, GPS localization, map, communication, and perception (radar and camera) sensors will be used to automatically adapt the powertrain control to the presence of other vehicles and traffic conditions.

Gupta noted that the team will employ an advanced machine learning algorithm that uses data streams from nearby vehicles and traffic lights to further optimize fuel consumption in real time. “The algorithms will be similar to those used in voice recognition software and face detection software found on some social media platforms,” he said.

The project also will feature Delphi’s expertise in powertrain controls (hardware and software), valve train components enabling DSF®, connected vehicle technologies and the integration of 48V mild hybrid hardware and controls.

Ohio State and its partners received this competitive award from ARPA-E’s NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program. Using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies, NEXTCAR projects will enable better communication between and coordination of vehicle-level and powertrain-level actions, thereby improving efficiency.

In June, Columbus, Ohio was crowned the nation's Smart City by the Department of Transportation. CAR and College of Engineering faculty and facilities were instrumental in attracting the unprecedented $140 million program to transform central Ohio into the nation’s premier transportation innovation region. Ohio State’s ARPA-E NEXTCAR project will leverage the city’s growing Smart City connected infrastructure for vehicle testing and demonstration.