The Vehicle Technologies Office supports facilities and tools such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Vehicle Systems Integration Laboratory to integrate, validate, and test advanced vehicle technologies. Read the text version.
The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports the development of individual fuel-efficient technologies, as well as the work to integrate them into a vehicle.
To integrate and test vehicle components and subsystems, DOE's national laboratories use hardware-in-the-loop systems that emulate vehicle environments with realistic control system interfaces and interactions. For example, researchers can test a real engine in an engine-in-the-loop environment interacting with a variety of hybrid electric vehicle architectures. This testing uses virtual models representing the battery pack, the electric traction motor, the transmission, and the generator.
Once the components have been integrated and tested to understand how they would function within a system, they are then measured against VTO's cost and performance targets. To validate the technologies’ performance using hardware-in-the-loop as well as model their costs, researchers use modeling and simulation software such as Autonomie, a software package supported by VTO and developed by Argonne National Laboratory. In addition, VTO also supports a few major projects that integrate multiple technologies in prototype vehicles, such as the SuperTruck project.
Although researchers supported by VTO evaluate new technologies, identify those with the greatest promise, and determine their benefits, they do not build vehicles for the market. Rather, vehicle manufacturers choose which technologies they want to integrate into their offerings. To continually improve and better understand how technologies work in full vehicles, VTO works with industry to test, collect, and publish both laboratory and on-road data from vehicles that are currently on the market.
The testing follows established procedures to measure real-world vehicle performance. VTO collaborates with Idaho National Laboratory and the automotive industry to develop these procedures, which are specific to a type of technology, such as light-duty plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or natural gas transit buses. However, they are applicable to any model or manufacturer using that technology. They provide a reliable way for laboratories to measure vehicle characteristics and for fleets to consistently compare results.
VTO has supported the development of test procedures for these vehicle and fuel technologies: