NREL/Volvo Partnership Demonstrates Approach To Quantify Automated Vehicle Fuel Savings

Automated control of cars may enable drivers to rack up more fuel savings than if they were completely in charge, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Volvo Cars. Placing a number on the fuel efficiency of such vehicles is challenging, as fuel economy is typically measured in a laboratory setting, but that doesn’t work for automated vehicles.

This challenge motivated NREL to develop an objective approach for quantifying real-world efficiency impacts from automated vehicle technologies. NREL partnered with Volvo Cars to demonstrate the approach. The researchers leveraged on-road data from Volvo vehicles driving around Gothenburg, Sweden, and compared fuel efficiency for cars that used adaptive cruise control (ACC) to those that did not.