Smart Pedal Technology Field-Tested on Vehicles in California Revealed an Increase in Fuel Economy of up to 6.29 Percent.

Study Involving Six Vehicles with GPS-Enabled Engine Control Unit Data Loggers Provided Insight on Fuel Economy Over Four-Month Period.

Date Posted
12/26/2023
Identifier
2023-B01816
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Evaluating the Effectiveness of “Smart Pedal” Systems for Vehicle Fleets

Summary Information

Smart Pedal systems can be installed in vehicles to potentially reduce fuel consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by stabilizing drivers’ acceleration patterns. The Smart Pedal device works by adjusting the accelerator pedal signal for micro accelerations caused by roadway conditions on the driver’s foot and the accelerator pedal. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a select Smart Pedal system for improving fuel economy and reducing GHG emissions using six Caltrans fleet vehicles instrumented with Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-enabled Engine Control Unit (ECU) data loggers. ECU and GPS data were collected for a baseline period of vehicle operation without the Smart Pedal device installed, followed by a four month (August 2022 - December 2022) period of operation with the Smart Pedal device installed. The amount of data collected from each vehicle ranged from 548 miles to about 2,800 miles. 

METHODOLOGY

The test vehicles (consisting of light duty and medium duty cars and trucks) were selected based on their compatibility with the Smart Pedal device, and how easily ECU data could be accessed. The real-time fuel rate information was based on the ECU data from the mass air flow (MAF) (detects the air density as it heads into the engine) and the lambda sensor (measures the oxygen level in the exhaust system). The fuel consumption rate calculations were performed using a conversion software program. Vehicle activity data were map matched based on the latitude, longitude, and heading information from the GPS data. The map matching results provided information on the road type and road grade for each second where map-matching data were sufficient. For the field testing, the contribution of factors such as changes in payload, number of passengers, driver, accessory usage was unknown. A cost analysis was conducted based on the cost of implementation and the potential cost savings of the Smart Pedal system to determine the economic viability of the system.

FINDINGS

  • The results showed an overall increase in fuel economy of up to 6.29 percent between the vehicles with the Smart Pedal technology and those without. Two of the six vehicles, however, showed a small fuel economy decrease (-0.52 percent and -1.72 percent), which was attributed to the effect of uncontrolled parameters. 
  • Additionally, taking the unit cost for the select Smart Pedal system as $299 and the largest average fuel economy increase of 6.29 percent, the fuel savings using the Smart Pedal was roughly estimated as 0.13 gallons of gas per day or about $0.62 per day (assuming a gas price of $4.80 per gallon). The payback period was estimated as 15.76 months for the highest fuel economy vehicle.
Results Type
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