The project focuses on fuel efficiency improvements in relation to the use of telematics data obtained from hybrid vehicle systems. The programme has significant synergies with, and applicability to, traditional powertrain systems. The project consortium consists of significant industry stakeholders from the three key Telematics technology domains of Automotive, Infrastructure and Telecommunications.
The intelligent advanced hybrid vehicle is important because it is highly innovative, and demonstrates how future intelligent transport technologies can be used to significantly improve fuel consumption and reduce vehicle emissions. With a view to reducing journey times, smoothing progress and maximizing fuel economy, the Sentience control system adjusts vehicle speed, acceleration and deceleration via its adaptive cruise control. Using GPS and mapping data, it takes into account the speed limits, traffic conditions, the road’s gradient and features including bends and even speed bumps, as well as less predictable road features including roundabouts and traffic lights.
Sentience seeks to assess and demonstrate the fuel efficiency improvements and resultant cost savings that can be achieved through the use of Telematics data. An important aim is to both demonstrate the underlying technologies involved with the vehicle, and provide a focus for discussion of the implications of the results of the project for the future of road transport.
This 18 month programme is being undertaken in three phases of work: simulation, prototype development and assessment. Initial simulation will provide a benchmark vehicle model that will be used to explore new strategies that can utilise topological and traffic data to provide a more efficient and environmentally friendly drive. These simulated strategies will then be refined and implemented on a vehicle that will be subsequently assessed against the simulated results and targets.
Sentience is based on enabling the vehicle, which is based on a Ford Escape hybrid, to ‘see’ beyond its natural horizon through the use of internet-enabled mobile phone communications, GPS, advanced mapping and other sophisticated real-time navigational technologies. This information is used to improve the energy efficiency of the vehicle, reduce exhaust emissions and substantially increase fuel economy and CO2 performance. Based on route information – which could in a production setting be integrated with a commercial navigation system – the Sentience vehicle will calculate and follow an optimal route and driving strategy for its adaptive cruise control system. Sentience technology is designed to be applied to a vehicle at little extra cost – almost all the necessary on-board sub-systems are already fitted to high-end vehicles and increasingly, in the future, likely to be included as standard across the product ranges.
Interim results are that the Sentience project vehicle has so far shown fuel savings of between 5% and 24%, depending on traffic conditions and the nature of the road on which it is travelling.