What would happen if your in-car navigation system did more than just frustrate you and managed to be, well… useful? While navigation systems have made their way comfortably into our vehicles — even proving indispensable on occasion — what if they could do more than just guide you to the nearest Starbucks or display your Justin Bieber album art? What if they could actually help you save money at the pump, or add miles to your electric car’s range? The answers to these questions may be on the horizon.
Plugin Cars reports that a research team at the California’s UC Riverside is currently developing a navigation system that could potentially save you money by cutting fuels costs, and add to your overall electric driving range. Rather than spewing out directions on how to get to your nearest McDonald’s, this new “eco-routing” navigation system would take into account, and adjust for, various factors like traffic, topography, and road type. It might not provide you with the fastest route, but rather than saving you time, it could save both gas and money, which is a worthwhile trade off much of the time.
For example, a driver in an electric car might be directed to travel down city or suburban roads instead of taking the highway in an effort to increase vehicle range. Alternatively, a traditional petrol-powered car could be routed around the city and encouraged to stick to the freeway in order to avoid gasoline guzzling, stop-and-go traffic, or red lights. The system could also potentially take into account other variables such as vehicle cargo weight and weather in order to maximize fuel economy.
Currently, automakers are trying their best to extend the range and fuel-efficient of vehicles through alternate methods such as increased battery size, regenerative braking, and smaller, turbocharged engines. Some, like Toyota and Nissan, have even implemented auxiliary sources of power — like solar panels — to help lessen the load systems like climate control tend to sap from a cars battery, but this is the first we have heard of a navigation system being used to fuel economy and/or range.
Right now, research is ongoing, with electric vehicles scheduled for initial testing once a prototype has been developed.