Volvo Proving Ground, Gothenburg, Sweden — …The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws…
[Hat Tip: Eddie Wren – International Road Safety – LinkedIn Group]
In an effort to save energy and money, the State Highway Administration has cut back its overhead lighting on a six-mile stretch of the highway. If results from the year-long test are favorable, officials say, the state could reduce lighting on other highways…
…The experiment has raised concerns about safety in some quarters. For many motorists, a well-lit roadway is comforting, and many studies over the decades have shown that bright lights — in the right places — can save lives.
Highway officials said that even with fewer lights, the illumination of Route 100 will remain well within federal standards. But AAA Mid-Atlantic still has concerns about the test.
“With the nation’s motorists aging rapidly, we need to keep in mind they tend to have more difficulty seeing to drive safely at night. We worry that deactivating highway lighting could curtail motorists’ safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.
Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.
By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.
Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.
…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.
A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.
There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.
As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.
The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.
Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:
Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:
- Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
- Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
- Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
- Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.
These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.
Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.
As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.
As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.
Last month Fiat Motors released the results of their eco:Drive system study of 9 million journeys by 42,000 European drivers. I’ve spent the last few days reading and re-reading it, and it’s so good that I’m going to post sections of it in an on-going series here at Fuelishness!
If you’d like to download and read the whole report (and you should if you are at all interested in driver behavior modification), you can find it at the Fiat website for download.
Look for Part One shortly.
Washington DC – Dec. 13th, 2010 – Compendium Software Systems, LLC announced today the release of BrightFleet.com™ http://www.brightfleet.com, marking a change in branding for all products previously available under the FuelClinic Fleet™ Systems brand.
BrightFleet’s™ mission is to provide a globally-available risk identification and mitigation system, all in one easily administered and affordable solution available immediately for fleets of any size and type.
“Our state-of-the-art Hazard Perception Evaluation application is a predictive behavior analysis tool designed to identify a fleet’s high risk drivers based on their ability to identify dangerous situations that happen every day on our roadways”, said Michael Bragg of Compendium Software Systems, the company behind the BrightFleet™ brand.
While BrightFleet™ will focus solely on providing advanced technologies to fleet operators on a global scale, FuelClinic™ http://www.fuelclinic.com will continue to focus on providing motorists fuel efficiency improving eco-driving advice, techniques, and progress-tracking software.
“We love the FuelClinic community, and plan to continue to increase the level of service we provide to the eco-drivers there”, said Bragg. “We also relize that the fleet risk management and mitigation products we offer are a more natural fit under the new BrightFleet™ brand.”
To learn more about BrightFleet™, visit the website at http://www.brightfleet.com
Source: BBC News
Italian carmaker Fiat has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period.
It may be the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.
“We can extract a number of data – on how the pedals are used, petrol consumption, braking,” says Candido Peterlini, vice-president for product development at Fiat.
It developed eco:Drive from the data collected from 420,000 car journeys of 5,700 drivers in five countries.
Cars with this function allow the driver to download data about their journeys to a USB stick, which they can plug into their home computer.
It will tell them how to improve their driving – for example, by changing gears less.
Mr Peterlini says the plan is to make this response instant soon, via the on-board computer – so that a driver gets told how to improve their driving while they are cruising through town – and then integrate it into live traffic maps.
“The plan is to tell you the most eco way to drive, by changing your behaviour, taking in traffic conditions and the structure of the road” such as how steep it is, Mr Peterlini says.
Even more for you Google Robot Car fans…
The Google blog post says that its autopilot vehicles have logged more than 140,000 miles to date, which presumably means the project has been going on for quite a while. It sounds cool, but I’m unclear why it’s apparently been secret until now, or why Schmidt spoke so cryptically and so recently of laws restricting the roads to self-driving cars without mentioning that Google was building them.
Google isn’t the only outfit working on this idea–a few months ago, I went for a very brief ride in a self-driving, self-parking Volkswagen developed at Stanford University. And the basic idea has been fodder for magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Sciencefor decades. Herewith, a few examples from the past seventy-seven years ago–none of which seem to have gotten as far as Google’s experiments.
Here’s a video peak at some of the hardware and software systems at work inside the Google Prius that has been driving itself around San Fransisco traffic over the past few months.
From: The Spec
Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, the engineers argue. They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008. The engineers say the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption. But of course, to be truly safer, the cars must be far more reliable than, say, today’s personal computers, which crash on occasion and are frequently infected.
The Google research program using artificial intelligence to revolutionize the automobile is proof that the company’s ambitions reach beyond the search engine business. The program is also a departure from the mainstream of innovation in Silicon Valley, which has veered toward social networks and Hollywood-style digital media.
During a half-hour drive beginning on Google’s campus 35 miles south of San Francisco last Wednesday, a Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.
It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.
The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.
The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.
FuelClinic.com Fleet System adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation
ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System ( http://fleet.fuelclinic.com ), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.
This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.
“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”
FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.
FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.
AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.
Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.
AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.
Fuelishness! Feed: Ford’s Focus on Eco-Driving; Pentagon’s Algae Fuel Research; Oil over $80; Lithium Supply for 1M Hybrids; ‘Stuck With Cars’ Discussion
- Ford’s new Focus on eco driving — It’s about being careful and not wasteful, both when it comes to the way a car runs and, indeed, how it is built in the first place and here Ford is reducing its carbon footprint with a range of sustainability initiatives.
- Pentagon Researcher Promises Cheap Biofuel for Jets — Pentagon officials have been talking for years about weaning their jets off of fossil fuels. Now they say they’re only months away from producing a cheap fuel made from algae — for less than $3 a gallon.
- Oil above $80 as traders eye low interest rates — Oil prices rose above $80 a barrel Monday in Asia, extending a three-week rally as investors expect the U.S. central bank to keep interest rates near zero to help fuel economic growth, which would boost crude consumption.
- Energy for Electric Vehicles Dealt a Blow by Bolivian Lithium Production — Unfortunately for those who are expecting electric cars to spring out of the woodwork in the next few years (remembering that the President’s plan calls for 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015) Mitsubishi estimates that the world will need 500,000 tons per year at full ramp up. The Salar di Uyuni deposit in Bolivia holds at least 9 million tons, although the country has, in total, perhaps as much as 73 million tons.
- Stuck With Cars — Every weekday, tens of millions of Americans get into vehicles that are full of passenger space which won’t be used, with engines capable of horsepower and speeds that won’t be attained, holding fuel tanks that could power the car for distances that won’t be traveled. The result of all this over-engineering is that cars cost way more than a vehicle for daily commuting need cost, and they consume way more energy than a vehicle for daily commuting need consume.
Rocky Mountain Institute: White Paper
Feasible technological improvements in vehicle ef?ciency, combined with “long combination vehicles” (which raise productivity by connecting multiple trailers), can potentially raise the ton-mile ef?ciency of long-haul heavy tractor-trailers by a factor ~2.5 with respect to a baseline of 130 ton-miles/gal. Within existing technological and logistical constraints, these innovations (which do not include such further opportunities as hybrid-electric powertrains or auxiliary power units to displace idling) could thus cut the average fuel used to move each ton of freight by ~64 percent. This would annually save the current U.S. Class 8 ?eet about four billion gallons of diesel fuel and 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Further bene?ts would include lower shipping costs, bigger pro?ts for trucking companies, fewer tractor-trailers on the road, and fewer fatal accidents involving them. Thus transformational, not incremental, redesign of tractors, trailers, and (especially) both as in integrated system can broadly bene?t economic prosperity, public health, energy security, and environmental quality.
Slowly we are moving to generally-available real-time ITS solutions that will help drivers navigate around traffic congestion, find fuel at the lowest cost along the route, and provide real-time feedback to drivers about how their driving style is effecting their fuel economy and safety.
SiriusXM constellation of satellites transmits much more than music, news, and Howard Stern – with the right equipment you can receive real-time traffic information for your area beamed directly to your car.
Source: Sirius Traffic FAQ
Real-time traffic flow — Real-time traffic speed on each road segment is averaged over a five minute period and is shown on the navigation map, usually as color-coded roadways… Real-time traffic incidents — This includes updated traffic information on accidents, road construction, road closings and other traffic-related incidents… Since the Sirius Traffic service is integrated with a vehicle’s navigation systems, SIRIUS Traffic can help drivers pick the fastest route. Navigation systems can also reroute based on the updated real-time traffic.
Currently available mostly on high-end OEM platforms (there are a few aftermarket receivers that can read the signals and integrate with your on-board navigation system) to warn you when your route becomes congested, is under construction, or has other incidents – provide you a chance to re-route avoid delays.
Recently it was announced that much of the 2010 class of Mercedes Benz vehicles will come with an OEM version of the Sirius Traffic service pre-installed with a 6-month trial activated.
Source: Sirius Buzz
The news came in today that Sirius Traffic is available on all 2010 Mercedes Benz vehicles equipped with navigation and Sirius satellite radio. It is expected to be installed in 70% of the Mercedes Benz 2010 lineup and will be standard on the S-Class, CL-Class, CLS-Class and G-Class models.
Sirius Traffic comes pre-activated with a six month trial subscription for the higher then typical converting customers along with a six-month trial subscription of the “SIRIUS Everything” package.
For those of you who don’t know Sirius Traffic provides traffic speed and flow information to vehicles over Sirius’ network. It also provides information on traffic incidents, scheduled road closings and road construction. Since the Traffic feature is integrated with the vehicle’s navigation system, the service assists drivers in picking the quickest, safest routes based on real-time traffic conditions.