ARPA-E awards $32M to 10 new projects to improve connected and automated vehicle efficiency

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy  announced up to $32 million in funding for 10 innovative projects as part of the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles program.

With a goal of reducing individual vehicle energy usage by 20%, NEXTCAR projects will take advantage of the increasingly complex and connected systems in today’s and tomorrow’s cars and trucks to improve their energy efficiency.


Connected and automated vehicle technology utilizes on-board or cloud-based sensors, data and computational capabilities to help a vehicle better process and react to its surrounding environment. This knowledge could include the location of stop signs and intersections, the actions of nearby vehicles, the location of congested areas, and much more. Currently, CAV technologies predominantly improve upon vehicle safety and add driving convenience. NEXTCAR projects will leverage these rapidly evolving technologies to greatly reduce vehicle energy use.


By co-optimizing the interactions between vehicle dynamic controls such as accelerator and braking input and powertrain controls that manage engines, motors and transmissions, NEXTCAR technologies offer efficiency-boosting solutions such as smarter cruise control and vehicle speed harmonization, or energy-saving options for approaching and departing from traffic signals. By integrating these systems with data from emerging CAV technologies, vehicles will be able to predict future driving conditions and events such as changing road grade or the interactions with other vehicles merging from multiple intersections.

If successful, NEXTCAR technologies will improve the energy efficiency of future connected and automated vehicles by at least 2% beyond other planned vehicle efficiency technologies.