Purdue Grant Aims to Reduce Vehicle Fuel Consumption

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(photo courtesy Purdue University) (photo courtesy Purdue University)

Purdue University is heading up one of 10 projects as part of a national effort to reduce vehicle fuel consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy will award $5 million to Purdue over three years for its project focusing on tractor-trailers, which begins in March.

Purdue says the goal of the overall effort is to reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent "through automated systems that interconnect cars and trucks and the transportation infrastructure using sensors and online cloud technology." Purdue's team is led by Gregory Shaver, professor of mechanical engineering, and will work with Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), Peterbilt Motors Co., the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others.

"This project is specific to developing fuel-saving algorithms that depend on connectivity," said Shaver. "Trucks will be connected to the cloud, and they will be connected to each other."

The university says the research will be based at Purdue's Ray W. Herrick Laboratories and will also involve four Purdue graduate students. The goal is to connect each truck to a cloud-based network operations center, giving them access to various types of information.

"These vehicles will be driven as if every driver had forward-looking information about what’s happening a few miles down the road, what the grades are going to be, where the hills are going to be, what the vehicle in front of them is doing," said Shaver. "They are going to be able to react much more quickly, and safely, than a human driver could."

Purdue's team will demonstrate the technology they've developed at the end of the project in three years.

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