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Researchers maximize your hybrid's battery by learning your routine

Emily Price
May 19, 2014
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Researchers have figured out a way to make your Prius even more efficient by tracking your route to work. Right now your car uses the battery until its power runs out and then starts dipping into your gasoline supply. It's a solution that works, but isn't the best use of power. Viktor Larsson from Chalmers University of Technology developed a system that analyzes that monotonous route you take to work (including that much-needed Starbucks detour), and then determines how to get the most out of your battery. For instance, your car might switch to gas on the highway where it's more efficient and save your stored power for the stop-and-go traffic in the office park.

It's a small tweak, but one that could reduce your car's energy consumption by 10 percent. The technology will work on hybrid vehicles currently in production -- it just needs access to the car's computer to evaluate the route and communicate with the battery and engine. Larsson has been working on the technology with Volvo for the past year, and has already simulated and tested the system on-board its V60 Plug-in Hybrid. What's more, there's also the possibility of using a smartphone rather than a server to power the management system. Volvo seems like the obvious candidate to get this in cars first, but who knows when that might be.

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