Carmakers are working to optimize virtually ever part of new models for fuel efficiency. Soon, that may even include the navigation system.
German automotive supplier Continental claims its Dynamic Electronic Horizon (eHorizon) system can do just that, using real-time information.
The company unveiled an advanced version of its system--which uses cloud connectivity--at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month.
It hopes to use this cloud-to-car arrangement to allow the majority of vehicles to "talk" to each other in the near future, according to industry trade journal Wards Auto.
Traffic in Atlanta, Georgia during rush hour (via Wikimedia)
The eHorizon system is based on technology that first debuted on Scania trucks in 2012 as part of an adaptive cruise-control system.
Using a 3D map to predict terrain and road conditions ahead, Continental says this existing system can boost fuel efficiency by 3 percent.
It claims that the fleet of commercial trucks using the system has saved 16 million gallons of diesel fuel over roughly three years.
Next, Continental hopes to adapt this predictive technology to passenger cars.
In Las Vegas, it showed a simulation of 75 vehicles virtually navigating city streets--aided by information sent back and forth between individual cars and a central server.
This will allow cars to warn drivers of an accident ahead, or even anticipate how long a stop at a red light will be.
Traffic at the I-10 & I-405 interchange in Los Angeles, California (by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz)
Advance warning of obstacles could theoretically make for smoother driving, which is better for fuel efficiency than abrupt acceleration and braking.
It also reduces the chance of panic braking and sudden ripples of slowing cars, which should reduce the chance of rear-end collisions and increase safety.
But it means cars will constantly be broadcasting their locations to a third party, which may also make some drivers feel that eHorizon seems a bit like Big Brother.
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Even if just 1 percent of vehicles on the road uses eHorizon, Continental claims it can accurately predict traffic patterns.
It hopes to put the first passenger cars equipped with the system on the road within three years.
Thus far, no carmaker has publicly discussed adopting the system.