Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ford looks to Google to optimise energy efficiency

Google logo image Ford has been working on ways to anticipate a driver's destination so that the information can be used to optimise vehicle performance in fuel efficiency and driveability. After a lot of their own research they are now adding the Google API into the mix. Google’s Prediction API can convert information such as historical driving data – where and when a driver has travelled – into real-time predictions of where they are headed at the time of departure.

The Google solution is cloud-based, which means it has more computation power, information storage and external data to bring to bear in converting historical driving data into real-time predictors.

Using the service a vehicle owner’s usage profile is built-up online based on routes and time of travel. Using this data, Google Prediction will anticipate the most likely destination and how to optimise driving performance to and from that location. To confirm the destination the vehicle’s computer could ask the driver for confirmation. A predicted route of travel could, for example, include an area restricted to electric-only driving, so a plug-in hybrid car could program itself to optimize energy usage over the total distance of the route in order to preserve enough battery power to switch to all-electric mode when travelling within the EV-only zone.

An another example is driving in cities that have lower emissions zones, which already includes London, Berlin and Stockholm. If a vehicle could predict exactly when it might be entering such a zone, it could optimise itself in a way to comply with regulations, for example switching the engine to all-electric mode.


It all sounds fascinating and at first sight somewhat futuristic. But when you think that the UK has just confirmed its targets of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2025 (on 1990 figures) then the future is very close. Incremental gains in reducing emissions will be important, so this sort of technology could well be essential.

Personal information security is going to be a big issue, which Ford acknowledges – who will have access to the data? Slightly more spooky is the idea that when you get into a car at 7am in the morning it asks whether you are going to work. Will you have to provide it with a note to get a day off?

© The Green IT Review

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