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GPS Prototype Fights EV Range Anxiety With Data

GPS can be a very useful, if sometimes distracting, navigation aid while driving to your destination. I sometimes use the GPS system in my Prius to help me explore non-highway routes for a sort of backroads-type experience.

What if GPS technology could also be an aid to help electric vehicle drivers eke out more driving range? That’s the focus of a recent study in California.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, who have done an amazing amount of green technology research in recent years, recently announced they’re developing a prototype “eco-routing” navigation system that could, under the right conditions, help drivers of vehicles like the Nissan Leaf increase their daily range by at least 10 percent. The system works by taking into account real-time traffic information, road type and grade, and passenger and cargo weight to help develop a routing algorithm that finds the route requiring the least amount of energy for a trip.

Making use of a nearly $95,000 one-year grant from the California Energy Commission, researchers are studying how the previously mentioned factors, as well as weather conditions, play a role in how electric vehicles consume energy. To do this, they will be collecting energy consumption data, said the university, “when an electric vehicle is driven under a variety of real-world driving conditions, including different vehicle speeds, traffic congestion levels, road types, and road grades, with varying number of passengers.”

The data from this study will be turned into tables, which will be used to develop real-time energy consumption estimate models for the test electric vehicle, said researchers. These models will be the focus of the eco-routing algorithm, which in turn will be at the heart of their prototype GPS system design that will be further tested in an electric car.


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