Fuel Efficiency through Co-Optimization

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University Park, Pennsylvania
Project Term:
03/28/2017 - 12/31/2020

Technology Description:

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) will develop a predictive control system that will use vehicle connectivity to reduce fuel consumption for a heavy duty diesel vehicle by at least 20% without compromising emissions, drivability, mobility, or safety. The technology will work to achieve four individual and complementary goals that co-optimize vehicle dynamic and powertrain control. First, it will exploit connected communication to anticipate traffic/congestion patterns on different roads, traffic light timing, and the speed trajectories of surrounding vehicles. Second, the system will coordinate with surrounding vehicles to achieve platooning on the highway, coordinated departures/arrivals at intersections, and consistency in the speed trajectories both within vehicle platoons and among neighboring vehicles that are not in a platoon. Platooning will allow vehicles to collectively reduce their aerodynamic losses, thereby reducing their fuel consumption. Coordinating vehicle departures and arrivals at intersections will minimize energy loss due to braking, idling, and inefficient departures. As its third goal, the technology will optimize vehicle dynamic control decisions such as the choice of route, the trajectory of vehicle speed versus time in a given road segment, and the choice of whether the vehicle is in an acceleration, deceleration, or coasting state at different points in time. Optimal routing will reduce fuel consumption by avoiding the fuel penalties associated with congestion and/or hilly terrains as much as possible. Finally, the technology will also optimize powertrain control decisions to eliminate unnecessary engine idling. Software for each of the goals will constitute a standalone product that can be commercialized independently of the others, but together, they will operate in an integrated manner to achieve co-optimized and coordinated vehicle control. If successful, this will result in vehicles that operate in a predictive manner, taking into account all the available data and information to produce the best outcome for vehicle fuel consumption, drivability, mobility, emissions, and safety.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Penn State’s project will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in energy consumption of future connected and automated vehicles.


These innovations could lead to a dramatically more efficient domestic vehicle fleet, lessening U.S. dependence on imported oil.


Greater efficiency in transportation can help reduce sector emissions, helping improve urban air quality and decreasing the sector’s carbon footprint.


Project innovations would further solidify the United States’ status as a global leader in connected and automated vehicle technology, while a more efficient vehicle fleet would reduce energy cost per mile driven and bolster economic competitiveness.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Sean Brennan
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


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