Bird flocking inspires technology that cuts plug-in hybrid fuel use by 30 percent  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

TreeHugger has an article on a biomimicry based approach for reducing car fuel consumption by introducing flocking behaviour - Bird flocking inspires technology that cuts plug-in hybrid fuel use by 30 percent.

Plug-in hybrid cars are far more fuel efficient than internal combustion engine cars, but it turns out that the way the cars' energy management systems balance the energy load between the battery and gas engine isn't always the most efficient.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside looked to nature evolutionary systems for inspiration, particularly how birds flock and fly in formation in order to improve their energy efficiency, and came up with a new technology that improves that balance and reduces fuel consumption of plug-in hybrids by 30 percent.

The university says that while not all plug-in hybrids work the same, many of them have energy management systems (EMS) that first put the car in all-electric mode until the battery is drained and then switch into hybrid mode. Research has found that this split is not the most efficient way to balance the two power sources in the plug-in hybrid, but that blending the two power modes and using the battery throughout a car trip minimizes fuel consumption.

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