Ricardo applies new technology to help improve real-world fuel economy of heavy duty trucks

Ricardo applies new technology to help improve real-world fuel economy of heavy duty trucks
30 March 2017


  • Ricardo applies new technology to help improve real-world fuel economy of heavy duty trucks
  • Creating a next-generation simulation environment for assessing low-carbon heavy duty truck technologies in real-world conditions
  • Based on the Ricardo IGNITE CAE tool, enhanced to include agent-based driver behaviour simulation, and dynamic interaction with real-time eHorizon data
  • Part of the Ricardo contribution to the IMPERIUM project, part funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

Heavy duty vehicles are an essential element of the transport fleets maintaining the economies of modern industrialized nations and represent a significant challenge in terms of the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Current, state-of-the-art heavy duty diesel engines are both highly efficient and offer low emissions. However, in real-world driving, fuel efficiency and emissions aftertreatment technologies interact with each other and also vary according to the vehicle application, its prevailing operating conditions and its mission.

The IMPERIUM project (which stands for IMplementation of Powertrain control for Economic, low Real driving emIssions and fuel ConsUMption) is a major research initiative comprising a total of 17 industrial and academic partners. The overall objective of the project is to apply new means of predictive and comprehensive powertrain control in an optimal way, exploiting the maximum potential of the individual systems for each vehicle application and its mission in real time.

Ricardo’s focus within the project is on evaluating a comprehensive simulation capability, based on a bespoke version of its existing IGNITE vehicle simulation tool. This has been enhanced through the incorporation of agent-based modelling approaches to simulate changes in driver behaviour and traffic flows, thus providing a simulation environment which is capable of assessing the impact of dynamic eHorizon information. Originally developed for research on passenger car applications, Ricardo is applying this advanced CAE technology for the first time in the heavy-duty truck sector within the IMPERIUM project.

The agent-based driver models will respond, for example, to instantaneous weather and traffic conditions on a dynamic basis, as well as static information on road topology, gradients and highway layout. As the simulation environment includes many vehicles, it can be used to generate multiple information streams that feed into the eHorizon based predictive control algorithms, thus enabling the evaluation of different levels of information availability and the corresponding changes in achievable on-road fuel economy. It is expected that this highly resolved and dynamic IMPERIUM simulation concept will enable the identification and evaluation of new technologies and operational opportunities for improving real-world truck fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions.

The simulation environment being used by Ricardo based on the IGNITE package will be tested and validated against the baseline vehicle. Subsequently, Ricardo will assist in the development of truck models representing the advanced technology configurations of three IMPERIUM demonstrator vehicles produced by the project partners. Ultimately, this simulation technology will be available for the development of smart and adaptive truck powertrain control strategies, which are able to deliver optimal fuel efficiency in real-time, under varying duty, prevailing traffic flows, route topology and weather conditions. The project partners believe that applying the IMPERIUM concept of dynamic control applied from this simulation environment, together with other improvements, fuel and CO2 savings in the region of 20 percent are possible over the project’s 2014 Euro VI baseline vehicle, which uses current control technology.

“Ricardo is pleased to be participating in this important collaborative research project,” commented Ricardo global technology director Simon Edwards. “The transportation of goods by heavy duty trucks is essential for the day to day functioning of our modern industrialised society. Unlike the light duty vehicle sector, there are no currently viable alternatives to diesel propulsion, so improving the operational fuel efficiency of heavy duty transport fleets remains a very high priority. The IMPERIUM project is an excellent example of the ‘digitalization’ of transport, through the combination of CAE simulation tools to optimize development of electronic control strategies in a virtual setting, which can then be used in the real world when coupled to “big data” systems and services.”