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A New Smart Car?

Think again if you think you can't change your car's fuel usage. A new book hopes to help engineers make cars that "show" consumers how to save fuel.

A new book released this month by a University of Dayton researcher hopes to provide manufacturers and engineers ways to "teach" consumers how to save fuel.

"Most people in the U.S. own cars, and they certainly know how to drive them. For many car owners, however, the fuel efficiency of their cars seems to be something they cannot do much about," said Raúl Ordóñez, co-author of Extremum-Seeking Control and Applications and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Dayton. "But what if the car were able to somehow 'show' the driver how to obtain a better fuel efficiency? If the car is equipped with a smart algorithm that can figure out how to get a better mileage, the driver could very well take advantage of this information to actually drive more efficiently."

Ordóñez, along with co-author Chunlei Zhang, a graduate of the University of Dayton's engineering doctoral program and engineering manager at Applied Materials, outlined the technique "extremum-seeking control."

"It's all about taking a machine, or system, and figuring how to maximize or minimize an aspect of its performance," Ordóñez said. "In this example, extremum-seeking can be used to minimize automotive fuel usage. Or it could also automatically tune a control system in the car to adapt to changing conditions. For example, antilock braking systems needs to maximize braking force even as driving conditions change from dry to wet, or to gravel, ice or snow."

Extremum-seeking, mainly used to achieve real-time optimal performance for systems, has been used in manufacturing to maximize efficiency or minimize resource consumption, or to increase the yield in chemical or biological processes, according to Ordóñez.

"There are many problems of engineering interest for which an optimal operating point or condition exists, but are not necessarily well known or easy to find," Ordóñez said. "The motivation for the research on extremum-seeking control arises from its practical interest, since even small improvements in performance can lead to cost saving and green technology."

The book provides insight into existing extremum-seeking techniques and proposes new extremum-seeking approaches. It presents several applications for use in the automotive, communication and semiconductor industries.

Ordóñez, an expert in flight control systems, has participated in the Boeing Welliver fellowship program. Boeing selects about 10 people a year for the program.


News and Communications Staff