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Along with work in individual technologies, the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) funds research that explores how to connect these components and systems together in the most effective, efficient way possible. Much of this work uses specialized equipment and software that VTO developed in partnership with the national laboratories, including the industry-leading modeling software Autonomie. To inform its activities, VTO also collects and reports its research results, data on individual advanced vehicles, and information on the transportation industry.
Researchers use these approaches to help guide the combination of multiple technologies within an overarching “vehicle systems perspective”:
- Benchmarking is the process of collecting a standard set of baseline data for a component or entire vehicle. Researchers can use this data to validate models that simulate vehicles or compare it to data from new technologies to see how much they improve on existing ones.
- Vehicle modeling and simulation tools allow researchers to save time and money by building “virtual vehicles” where they can simulate the use of different technologies before building actual components.
- Integration, validation, and testing tools and procedures help researchers combine and test multiple physical components as well as entire vehicles in consistent, cost-effective ways.
Other software packages developed by the national laboratories help researchers better understand consumer behavior, vehicles’ environmental effects, the societal benefits of different technologies, and transportation system trends.