How can hybrids become even more efficient? You can start by removing the driver from the equation.
The Sentience Research Vehicle is a hybrid test car that uses existing onboard systems, mobile communications, and advanced mapping technologies to determine the most fuel efficient way to get to a destination. The project is a joint effort by Ricardo Company and project partners Jaguar-Land Rover, Transport Research Laboratory, and several other European interest groups, and was revealed earlier this week.
Basically, the Sentience's system removes the guesswork from and automates when and the best way to accelerate, brake, and balance the car's electrical load.
Sentience is equipped with Enhanced Acceleration/Deceleration (EAD), and adaptive cruise control that adheres to the driving speed limits. That means it'll accelerate smoothly, not exceed the speed limit, and brake gently to maximize regenerative braking. It's what every hybrid driver should be doing, but may not always.
The Sentient's navigation system does more than just determine the shortest route between points A and B. The Optimized Engine Load (OEL) feature will identify the route that will enable the driver to maximize recharging opportunities. To do this, the system uses GPS and mapping data to analyze speed limits, traffic lights, roundabouts, and road gradients and curving to maximize energy savings through regenerative braking.
The Enhanced Air-Conditioning (EAC) automatically adjusts the temperature before and after temporary stops to avoid using draining the electric battery, although many hybrid systems do something similar by switching from full AC to Econ mode when the vehicle stops.
These features are a cost-effective way to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by at least 5 percent and up to 24 percent, according to Ricardo.