High-tech eco-driving can reduce fuel consumption

A driver who has mastered eco-driving can substantially reduce fuel consumption and thereby reduce carbon emissions. The Volvo Group has conducted research on a system, whereby technology aids the driver in driving in an even more environmentally economical manner.

 

The Volvo Group works consistently to improve the fuel efficiency of the company’s diesel engines. Since diesel technology is an old and well-developed technology, the improvements made by the Group result in individual percentage-point gains.

However, drivers can achieve significantly larger improvements through their driving approach. Eco-driving courses are successful. Driver’s learn to operate the vehicle in a more environmentally efficient manner and can often achieve fuel savings in excess of 10 percent. A common problem however is that many drivers fall back into old driving routines after a period.

For the past three years, the Volvo Group has participated in eCoMove, a European Union research project, in collaboration with a long list of different companies. One of the areas under eCoMove that the Volvo Group has conducted research into was methods of consistently aiding drivers to drive as fuel efficiently as possible.

“The project includes a dashboard screen that provides the driver with information about appropriate behavior,” says Guillaume Vernet, Project Manager at Intelligent Transport Systems at the Volvo Group in Lyon, France.

Eco-driving includes elements such as avoiding hard acceleration and maximizing utilization of engine braking. The next step is to incorporate map data and GPS. While drivers can plan for eventualities they can see in front of them, in heavy vehicles, it is advantageous with substantially better forward planning than that.

The third stage included in the research project is wireless communication with traffic lights that signal the time remaining until the lights change to red or green. The driver thus knows what speed to maintain to avoid stopping at the traffic light.

The Volvo Group has used professional drivers when testing the new tool, both in a simulator and on the road, and the response has been extremely positive.

“It is difficult to provide a general figure about how much fuel can be saved from this technology,” says Guillaume Vernet. “But, in areas with frequent changes in speed, fuel consumption is about 10-15 percent lower.”

“For haulage companies, this can represent substantial financial savings over a year and a considerable boost toward a better environment.”

More facts eCoMove
eCoMove is a 3-year integrated project (April 2010 – November 2013), co-funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme of Research and Technological Development. This project has created integrated cooperative solutions for road transport to help drivers, freight and road operators save unnecessary kilometres driven (optimised routing); save fuel (eco-driving support); and manage traffic more efficiently (optimised network management).

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