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One-size-fits-all is rarely optimal, and that goes for cars too. Engineers have to consider many tradeoffs when they tune a car’s drivetrain, and settings that work well in one condition usually don’t work as well in another… But that might be about to change thanks to work by Ford and Google. Using sophisticated predictive software to analyze your driving habits, they could optimize the vehicle’s operation to squeeze the most out of every drop of fuel or kilowatt-hour of electricity. Read on for more details.

This type of technology will be especially useful with plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles, since optimizing their charging patterns is crucial to convenience and energy efficiency. For example, with a plug-in, if the car knows that this is a short trip with a charging station on the other end, it can do as much of it in electric mode as possible. If it’s a longer trip, it can predict which parts of the trip are more efficiently done in electric mode and which portions are better done with the gasoline engine (and depending on what type of trip it is, the gasoline engine might be tuned via software to be more efficiently used).

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Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.