Evaluating the Effectiveness of “Smart Pedal” Systems for Vehicle Fleets

In recent years, there have been a number of “Smart Pedal” systems that emerged, both as automotive OEM equipment and as third-party hardware. These “Smart Pedal” systems can be installed in vehicles with the potential to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions by smoothing a driver’s acceleration and deceleration patterns, with little effect on travel time or safety. This research project will catalog and evaluate the effectiveness of different “Smart Pedal” systems in reducing fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

These systems will first be cataloged through a technology search, followed by the evaluation of a selected promising technology. This system will be tested both in a controlled testing environment and under real-world conditions to determine the effectiveness, benefits, issues, and potential savings of the system. Based on the observations and testing, a cost benefit analysis will be conducted to determine the economic feasibility of large-scale deployment in Caltrans fleet vehicles. After cataloging the existing and available technology, the research team will select and install data logging devices on approximately five Caltrans vehicles (of various maintenance classes, if the selected “Smart Pedal” technology allows). Data will be collected prior to the “Smart Pedal” technology being installed, followed by data collection after installation. After sufficient data collection, the researchers will evaluate the data to determine the relationship between throttle and velocity modifications along with fuel economy and GHG emissions. The research team will then translate the observed effectiveness from these test vehicles to the statewide fleet. The translation of effectiveness will be accomplished by utilizing the statewide vehicle activity database (Networkfleet and/or GeoTab). The research team will identify roughly the top 2% fleet vehicles, which would benefit from installation of “Smart Pedal” technology. A cost benefit analysis will be conducted for the identified vehicles to determine the economic feasibility of large-scale deployment in Caltrans fleet vehicles. Future phases may include a much larger pilot program, covering a larger number of vehicles in the fleet over longer periods of time.

Research Area