Connected and Automated Class 8 Trucks

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West Lafayette,
Project Term:
05/22/2017 - 05/21/2020

Critical Need:

Modern drivers are skilled at anticipating and reacting to the behavior of nearby vehicles and the environment in order to travel safely. Nevertheless, all drivers operate with an information gap – a level of uncertainty that limits vehicle energy efficiency. For instance, safe driving demands that drivers leave appropriate space between vehicles and cautiously approach intersections, because one can never fully know the intentions of nearby vehicles or yet unseen traffic conditions. Closing this information gap can enable vehicles to operate in more energy efficient ways. The increased development of connected and automated vehicle systems, currently used mostly for safety and driver convenience, presents new opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of individual vehicles. Onboard sensing and external connectivity using Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I), and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies will allow a vehicle to “know” its future operating environment with some degree of certainty, greatly narrowing previous information gaps. By providing the ability to predict driving conditions, these technologies could operate the vehicle powertrain (including the engine, transmission, and other components) more intelligently, generating significant vehicle energy savings.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Purdue University will develop an integrated, connected vehicle control system for diesel-powered Class 8 trucks. Improvements from this system are expected to achieve 20% fuel consumption reduction relative to a 2016 baseline Peterbilt Class 8 truck. Class 8 trucks are large (over 33,000 lbs) vehicles such as trucks and tractor-trailer combinations like 18-wheelers. While these large trucks represent only 4% of all on-road vehicles in the U.S., they are responsible for almost 22% of global on-road fuel consumption. The Purdue team's work is based on a system-of-systems approach that integrates hardware and software components of the powertrain, vehicle dynamic control systems, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, supported by cloud computing. Communication between vehicles relies on short range radio, while cloud communications will operate over the LTE cellular network. This approach will provide the data needed to optimize single vehicle or two vehicles closely following each other in a platooning formation – reducing the platoon’s overall energy consumption using technologies such as predictive cruise control and coordinated gear shifting. The proposed technology can also be applied to lighter class of trucks as the same performance shortcomings for Class 8 truck engines and transmissions also exist in lighter vehicle classes.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Purdue’s project will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in energy consumption of future connected and automated freight trucks.


These innovations could lead to a dramatically more efficient domestic vehicle fleet, lessening U.S. dependence on imported oil.


Greater efficiency in freight transportation can help reduce sector emissions, helping improve urban air quality and decreasing the sector’s carbon footprint.


Project innovations would further solidify the United States’ status as a global leader in connected and automated vehicle technology, while a more efficient vehicle fleet would reduce energy cost per mile driven and bolster economic competitiveness.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Dr. Gregory Shaver
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


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