The Sentience project, an automotive technology research project led by British engineering firm Ricardo, has unveiled an intelligent air-conditioning system that could increase fuel economy by more than 10 per cent in real-world driving conditions.
The system, called Enhanced Air Conditioning (EAC), works in conjunction with a hybrid or stop-start powertrain, ensuring that, when the motive power is purely electric or when the stop-start system cuts the engine, the air-con compressor does not run.
In the Sentience project testbed vehicle, a Ford Escape Hybrid, the system is also linked to a sophisticated mapping and mobile communication system that controls the speed and direction of the car. The EAC system can therefore predict potential stopping points, and can plan when the air-con may need to be switched off, further helping to reduce fuel consumption.
The Sentience project is a collaboration between Ricardo, Jaguar Land Rover, the Transport Research Laboratory, Ordnance Survey and Orange business Services.