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Published November 30, 2007 10:36 AM

University of California teams with Audi to green student trips

RIVERSIDE -- Right now, drivers can ask Google maps to direct them to their destination, and highlight pizza places along the way. UC Riverside and UC Berkeley have recently partnered with Audi on a $650,000 project that will allow drivers to determine the greenest route possible.

The idea is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by giving drivers more specific information about the most environmentally responsible route for their particular car in current traffic conditions.

The project, "Clean Air, a Viable Planet," was announced Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

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Any vehicle, regardless of its fuel economy rating, will use less fuel getting from A to B if it can cruise at a constant speed rather than if it is constantly speeding up, slowing down, and idling in traffic. The technology exists today to be able to compute multiple routes to a destination depending on whether the driver wishes to optimize for time, distance, or fuel consumption. However drivers do not typically have enough information to choose the most environmentally responsible route.

"Our goal is to be part of a real solution to the constant dilemma commuters face: What is the best way to get there?" said UC Riverside Professor Matt Barth, a lead investigator. "Sometimes the best way to get there is the one that causes the least damage to the planet."

Audi will fund several university projects to create the system they will use in their cars: UC Riverside will partner with UC Berkeley to combine up-to-date map attributes such as road grade and speed limit with reliable real time measures of traffic congestion to provide the most environmentally friendly navigation route options.

In other parts of the project, UC Berkeley will work on technology that allows the car engine to know the road ahead and adjust transmission and temperature settings to fit the situation. Stanford University will aim to create micro electro-mechanical systems that can turn the car's own vibration into a clean energy source for on board sensors.

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