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Real-time 'eco-driving' can cut fuel consumption up to 6pc

February 8, 2011 - Washington

Do you know how much fuel can be saved by avoiding stop-and-go traffic, closing your window and not using air conditioning? Well, a new study has all the answers for you.

A University of California, Riverside's College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) research studied a field called eco-driving, which refers to providing drivers with advice and feedback to minimize fuel consumption when driving.

Eco-driving, which has been practiced for years in Europe and is part of the driver education curricula there, is now receiving a lot of attention in the United States because of calls to increase fuel economy standards and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"This is a really big deal. Automobile manufacturers are doing anything possible to make cars more fuel efficient," said Matthew Barth, the director of CE-CERT and the Yeager Families Professor of Electrical Engineering.

Much of the eco-driving research at UC Riverside and other University of California campuses, including UC Berkeley, focuses on using an on-board eco-driving device, similar to a GPS unit, which provides instantaneous fuel economy feedback under real-world driving conditions.

In a study, 20 drivers in the Riverside area used the eco-driving device, known as Eco-Way, for their daily commute for two weeks. Researchers found it improved fuel economy by six percent on city streets and one percent on highways.

Those same engineers are now working with researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis on a follow-up study in the Bay area.

During the study, participants will use 10 eco-driving devices for two months at a time, said Susan Shaheen, the principal director of the study and co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley.


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