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Transport that depends on fossil fuels is to be minimised by the year 2030. One conceivable alternative is for future cars to be powered by electricity supplied via the roadway. Working together with the Swedish Transport Administration and Viktoria Swedish ICT, VTI is launching a comprehensive research project to test electrified roads in a driving simulator. 

The environmental goals of the Swedish parliament will entail a major overhaul of the transport sector, and so research initiatives are needed in many areas. With the help of its advanced driving simulators, VTI can generate additional knowledge for research into the electrification of roads, which is poised to pick up speed in Sweden and other European countries. The Swedish Energy Agency has granted research funding.

Simulator offers perfect test environment

There are three main proposals for transferring electricity to a vehicle in transit: via overhead lines, via rails in the roadway or via magnetic fields from the road (inductive transfer). These alternatives have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of factors such as capacity, safety and aesthetics. Using a driving simulator, it is possible to model different technical solutions and study the interactions between infrastructure, vehicle and driver.

“Simulators are perfect for studying systems and environments that are not yet available, as they are flexible, safe and cost-effective. In this project, we will create models for electrified roads, electric vehicles, payment systems and driver support systems.”

Focus on the user

When carrying out such a major overhaul, it is important to take the users into account to ensure that the systems will be user-friendly and widely accepted.

“In the initial phase, we will create a virtual demonstration environment. The simulator will allow test subjects to experience what it is like to drive on electrified roads, and allow us to study driver behaviour”.

The user studies will test the ability of the driver to maintain a good position on the road, which is important if the transfer of electricity is to function correctly. The research group will also study the driver's experience and acceptance of electrification. Another important element is to study how road electrification can be realised in the road environment, and what it will look like.

Energy savings

An important aspect is to calculate the energy savings when driving in the simulator with different drivers. Therefore have Viktoria Swedish ICT created a drivetrain hybrid model for the driving simulator. It is easy to change vital component sizes as the engines and battery, together with electrified distances on the road and the power level supplied to the roadside from the grid.

With the drivetrain model it is possible to validate results from different electrical road optimizations with real drivers. This is important for the total system performance include cost.

The simulator can be used throughout the full process from concept to market introduction. Proposed concepts for products and services, such as driver support systems for energy-efficient driving, will be tested and demonstrated. In this way, use of the simulator will stimulate development and cooperation surrounding the electrification of vehicles and roads, allowing the early introduction of high-quality systems.

“Simulator demonstrations are a great way of marketing new transport solutions. In the second project phase, we will run demonstrations for financiers, actors, stakeholders and the media, so that concepts and knowledge can be experienced and disseminated.”

The project is being conducted as part of the Swedish Energy Agency's demonstration programme for electric vehicles. The results will be provided to organisations including the group within the Forum for Innovation in the Transport Sector that is working on the roadmap for the electrification of transport. The project will run until Mars 2015.

Illustration: Trafikverket


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