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Explicit fuel optimal speed profiles for heavy trucks on a set of topographic road profiles

The problem addressed is how to drive a heavy truck over various road topographies such that the fuel consumption is minimized. Using a realistic model of a truck powertrain, an optimization problem for minimization of fuel consumption is formulated. Through the solutions of this problem optimal speed profiles are found. An advantage here is that explicit analytical solutions can be found, and this is done for a few constructed test roads. The test roads are constructed to be easy enough to enable analytical solutions but still capture the important properties of real roads. In this way the obtained solutions provide explanations to some behaviour obtained by ourselves and others using more elaborate modeling and numeric optimization like dynamic programming.

The results show that for level road and in small gradients the optimal solution is to drive with constant speed. For large gradients in downhill slopes it is optimal to utilize the kinetic energy of the vehicle to accelerate in order to gain speed. This speed increase is used to lower the speed on other road sections such that the total average speed is kept. Taking account for limitations of top speed the optimal speed profile changes to a strategy that minimizes brake usage. This is done by e.g. slowing down before steep down gradients were the truck will accelerate even though the engine does not produce any torque.

Anders Fröberg, Erik Hellström and Lars Nielsen


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Last updated: 2021-11-10