ICT transforming fuel consumption

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Technology is a transformative force – and, when it is used in connected cars and smart cities, can help reduce the amount of oil our country consumes, and ease pain at the pump, leading to a more sustainable society. That is the conclusion of a report released by AAA and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) along with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Center for Clean Energy Innovation (CCEI), and the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESCC).

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"When applied and connected on a national scale, advanced vehicle, infrastructure and aftermarket technologies can reduce U.S. oil consumption by hundreds of millions of barrels per year, in some cases tripling the efficiency benefits of currently available technologies," said Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) America President and CEO Scott Belcher. "For example, wireless applications like vehicle platooning could produce fuel savings of more than 10 million barrels per year. As Congress works to pass a long-term transportation bill next year, we hope this study will provide a roadmap to help navigate the latest transportation technologies and their real-world benefits as policymakers work to promote a safer, smarter, more efficient and sustainable transportation future."

Information and communications technology (ICT) and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are already producing measurable results across the country, according to the report. For example, the Smithsonian Institution reduced the fuel consumption of its fleet of vehicles by 52 percent by using GPS tracking and wireless communication to better manage its vehicles while a smart parking system in Ellicott City, Maryland, relays information about available parking spaces reduced cruising time drivers spent looking for open spots by 21 percent. 

On a larger scale, Los Angeles County, California used a synchronization program to better manage traffic signals to meet demand along its major arteries and saved drivers 31.3 million hours of travel time and 38 million gallons of gas each year. Similarly, Pittsburgh, tested an adaptive signal control system in one neighborhood that reduced travel time by 25 percent.

These types of technologies, and others, can be adopted more widely, on a national scale, to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and compressed natural gas vehicles offer tremendous fuel efficiency gains when compared to average conventional gasoline vehicles.  Plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles offer fuel savings equivalent to 409.8 million gallons per year and 361.5 million gallons per year, respectively.  With current sales trends, gas-electric hybrid vehicles represent the most significant potential fuel savings to the tune of 2 billion barrels of oil and 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over a 10-year period.

For more:
- see the report