Thanks to a $95,000 one-year grant from the California Energy Commission, researchers at the University of California, Riverside are in the second stages of developing an EV minded in-car GPS navigation system which its main purpose is to increase the range of your vehicle. To get the increase, the system will take into consideration current traffic information, road condition and grades, and the capacity of your vehicle with your passengers and baggage.


The Center for Environmental Research and Technology, also know as CE-CERT, which is part of the Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside, is taking up this task. Guoyuan Wu, an assistant researcher at CE-CERT, said the development of a ec0-routing formula that finds the route requiring the least amount of energy is "particularly useful given the limited range of electric vehicles." He also added, "it should really help cut down on what has become known as range anxiety."


The purpose of this project is in part to a study done last year by Matthew Barth and Kanok Boriboonsomsin, the director and research member of CE-CERT, respectively. Their $1.2-million grant last year started the process to figure out the the exact formula and to also acquire mapping help from local developers in the Riverside, California area.


Depending on your EV, the basic ranger can vary drastically depending on so many factors, including heat in Arizona. But for the study, CE-CERT has seen results for a Nissan LEAF vary between 47 and 138 miles, depending on the EPA testing conditions. Although the current navigation unit in the LEAF does have an ETA reading, it does not ensure the minimum energy consumption of your drive. According to the press release, a number of factors that affect vehicle energy consumption include:

  • Traffic conditions: Stop-and-go movement in congested traffic wastes fuel. So, the vehicle energy consumption increases significantly under this traffic condition
  • Road type: Driving patterns on different road types are different. For example, driving on highways often involves cruising at higher speeds. Driving on surface streets often involves more frequent stops due traffic signals, stop signs and more idling. These differences have significant impacts on vehicle energy consumption.
  • Road grade: Climbing a steep road grade requires higher power from the engine to overcome the added gravitational force. This increases vehicle energy consumption.
  • Weight: A vehicle carrying more weight requires more energy to run, thus impacting its energy consumption rate.
  • Weather conditions: Weather conditions have direct and indirect impact on energy consumption. For instance, headwind increases vehicle energy consumption as the vehicle needs additional power to combat the wind drag. And, using the heater or air condition during hot or cold weather also increases energy consumption.

The primary purpose of the grant from the California Energy Commision will be used to collect data in the EVs in a variety of driving conditions, including vehicle speeds, traffic congestion levels, road types, and road grades, all with a range in passengers and equipment weight. CE-CERT is hopeful this information will then be intergrated in an ec0-routing algorithm and prove the study once and for all.


To learn more about this program, check out the latest press release for the University of California, Riverside.

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