Hybrid Electric Vehicle Platooning Control

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Project Term:
03/01/2017 - 04/26/2024

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:

Michigan Technological University (MTU), in partnership with General Motors (GM), will develop, validate, and demonstrate a fleet of connected electric vehicles and a mobile cloud-connected computing center. The project will integrate advanced controls with connected and automated vehicle functions and enable: eco-routing, efficient approach and departure from traffic signals and cooperative driving between multiple vehicles, including speed harmonization. Use of the new vehicle dynamic and powertrain controls will allow a 20% reduction in energy consumption and a 6% increase in all-electric driving range through the first-ever implementation and connection of route planning, powertrain energy management, and model-predictive control algorithms. The selected vehicle for the fleet, the 2017 Chevrolet Volt, contains a unique powertrain architecture with multiple operating modes, including all-electric (EV) and hybrid-electric (HEV) modes, allowing the team to optimize numerous powertrain components. This project will use eight Chevrolet Volts in order to demonstrate the idea of platooning in a future automated highway system. In a platoon, vehicles follow closely together at a constant speed, thus reducing drag and lowering energy consumption and emissions. The MTU Mobile Lab (ML) will serve as a control center, vehicle-to-cloud communication hub, and mobile charging station for the fleet of Volts. The ML, a specially designed 18-wheeler, can travel with the fleet and enables real-time traffic simulation and eco-routing. The MTU team includes expertise in powertrain engineering, vehicle controls, algorithm design, and traffic simulation, while the GM team includes experts in the control and engineering of advanced electric powertrains who, if the project is successful, can facilitate the integration of the new control technology into future GM vehicles.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Michigan Technological University’s project will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in energy consumption and a 6% increase in range of future connected and automated hybrid electric vehicles.


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


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


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. Jeff Naber
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


General Motors

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