Fleet DNA Brings Fleet Data to Life, Informs R&D

Jan. 9, 2018


Photo of researcher standing next to abstract 3D image

NREL Engineer Adam Duran shares visualization of transportation data collected in collaboration with fleet partner. Photo by John De La Rosa, NREL 34672

The Fleet DNA clearinghouse of commercial vehicle operations data features over 11.5 million miles of real-world data from more than 1,700 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles operating across a variety of vocations—delivery vans and trucks, school buses, transit buses, bucket trucks, service vans, tractor trailers, and refuse trucks. This massive data repository provides vehicle duty-cycle summaries and visualizations similar to real-world genetics, helping users understand the broad operational range of today's commercial vehicles across vocations and weight classes.

"This extensive real-world data is a national resource that enables insight critical to the successful development of energy-efficient vehicle technologies that meet performance requirements and reduce operating costs," said Ken Kelly, who leads NREL’s commercial vehicle technologies work. "A wide range of industry partners in the vehicle and equipment manufacturing realm—including Cummins, Robert Bosch, Peterbilt, Volvo, Ford, Eaton, Proterra, Navistar, Smith EV, Allison, Efficient Drivetrains, Altec, PACCAR, Oshkosh, and Odyne—have tapped into Fleet DNA."

The data-driven insight and decision-making capabilities facilitated by Fleet DNA support a variety of research activities and partnerships with industry; academia; research organizations; and federal, state, and regional agencies. Transportation researchers use this vetted data resource to guide research by pinpointing opportunities for further development. Vehicle and component developers and manufacturers use Fleet DNA to optimize designs and support the development of commercially viable, energy-efficient vehicles. Fleet managers leverage Fleet DNA to improve fleet composition, selecting advanced vehicles that meet their unique operational requirements as well as their bottom lines.

The secure data repository consists of high-resolution controller area network and global positioning system data collected by NREL in collaboration with fleets across the country, including UPS, FedEx, Coke, Frito-Lay, Foothill Transit, PG&E, Verizon, Walmart, and Waste Management.

In addition to data collection, quality assurance, and secure data storage, NREL subjects incoming data to specialized processing routines, producing more than 350 unique duty-cycle metrics characterizing vehicle operating behavior. Publically accessible data are cleansed of personally identifying information, and the aggregated results are categorized by vocation and weight class and made available for download via www.nrel.gov/fleetdna along with related technical reports.

This real-world data resource is made more powerful by leveraging NREL's high-performance computing capabilities. Fleet DNA can be combined with other data resources related to geospatial road networks, weather, and traffic density, and subjected to data fusion, multivariate analysis, and advanced visualization techniques to investigate complex, multi-dimensional transportation issues and solutions.

"Fleet DNA serves as a primary example of how NREL's high-performance computing capabilities and analytic prowess can play a vital role in supporting research advancements—both here at the lab and within our industry partnerships," said NREL Engineer Adam Duran. "One recent example includes NREL's work with partners Bosch and Cummins to develop range-extended electric delivery vehicles that are 50% more fuel efficient than similar conventional vehicles. Drawing on Fleet DNA, researchers employed in-depth analysis techniques to develop application-specific drive cycles representing the real-world operation of residential and commercial delivery vehicles. Bosch and Cummins are using these drive cycles in their vehicle systems modeling and powertrain evaluation efforts."

Fleet DNA is a key component in NREL's arsenal of integrated modeling and analysis tools designed to overcome technical barriers and accelerate the development of advanced transportation technologies and systems that maximize energy savings and on-road performance.

Learn more about NREL’s sustainable transportation research.