Car with built-in crystal ball

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Our cars constantly make decisions on their own that we cannot control. Networking them with their surroundings combined with appropriate simulation models is supposed to provide them with added support in the future.

Although we step on the gas, apply the brakes and turn the steering wheel, we are not the only boss in the cockpit. After all, our cars constantly make decisions on their own such as exhaust gas after-treatment, temperature control or adjusting the operating strategy in electric and hybrid vehicles. The “Christian Doppler Laboratory” at TU Vienna is developing control methods for cars that save drive energy, reduce exhaust emissions and even improve the durability of batteries and fuel cells in electric automobiles. That also makes it necessary to electrically control a number of different operating parameters.

Environmentally friendly simulation models

One important research approach is networking the vehicle’s drive system with the surroundings. That is because, in many situations, its behavior could be optimized in advance if the vehicle knew the profile of the road or street ahead. Is a curve coming up and does it go uphill or downhill after that? Using suitable simulation models, a hybrid car could then decide that it could use electricity to power its way up the hill without a problem because the battery could recharge itself during the downhill section that follows.

For intelligent forecasts of this kind to succeed, sensors must continuously monitor the current operating status of all components. Predictive models then calculate which parameters will probably change and how the vehicle will react.

Researchers are working in the area of application-oriented basic research. The objective is not to solve specific problems in certain vehicles. Instead, it is to perform a wide range of tasks using new computational models and methods.


Simulation models for cars. (Image: TU Vienna).

Intelligent control is supposed to save drive energy, reduce exhaust emissions and improve the durability of batteries. (Image: TU Vienna).