UD professor’s car of the future lab includes simulator, miniature city


Article by Julie Stewart Video by Jason Hinmon

Next time you buy a car, what will you look for? Most people want a model with automated features or better fuel economy than their current car, according to surveys from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Consumer’s Union.

In two new labs at the University of Delaware, these vehicles of the future are being put to the test.

Andreas Malikopoulos, who joined the University of Delaware’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2017, is researching ways to maximize fuel efficiency in a connected and automated vehicle (CAV). These vehicles use sensors, cameras and advanced control algorithms to adjust their operation to changing conditions with minimal or no driver input.


Malikopoulos, an associate professor, develops and implements control technologies to allow vehicles to bypass roadblocks, change speed based on traffic conditions, and adjust their powertrains to improve efficiency.

Malikopoulos is the principal investigator of a $4.2 million, three-year project funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) through its NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program to improve the efficiency of an Audi A3 e-tron by at least 20 percent. The partners of this project are the University of Michigan, Boston University, Bosch Corporation, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ARPAE’s NEXTCAR program was established to advance connected and automated vehicle technologies to reduce energy consumption in these vehicles by 20 percent.

For this project, Malikopoulos established a new facility equipped with six driving simulators that can represent human-driven vehicles all linked together in a transportation environment.

Malikopoulos also built a second laboratory, a small-scale (1:24) “smart” city that covers an area of 20 x 20 feet with about 35 robotic cars to replicate real-world traffic scenarios in a small and controlled environment. UD’s Scaled Smart City has model streets lined with buildings, equipped with traffic lights and dotted with pedestrians.

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