DOE, ORNL Introduce Connected and Automated Vehicle Environment Laboratory

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WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 24, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have dedicated the launch of the Connected and Automated Vehicle Environment (CAVE) Laboratory at ORNL. CAVE is one of two new clean-energy research initiatives that the DOE and ORNL have introduced, focusing on connected and autonomous vehicle technologies and the recycling and recovery of advanced manufacturing materials.

CAVE is a virtually and physically integrated environment in which scientists and engineers will be able to evaluate intelligent mobility solutions using real-world hardware and data in virtual traffic conditions. The lab’s environment enhances scientists’ ability to verify large-scale energy benefits and emissions impacts of connected and automated vehicles, and other advanced transportation technologies, according to an ORNL press release.

The test bed at CAVE virtually approximates physical assets fed by real-world hardware and data, also known as a “digital twin.” This digital twin can be populated either automatically using artificial intelligence or manually, and allows scientists to study and model physical systems and their response to different situations.

The capability supports the development of hardware, control strategies, and algorithms for intelligent vehicle technologies, central traffic controllers, and infrastructure controls in a safe laboratory setting.

ORNL has developed testing systems, including sensor emulation, to mimic the signals vehicles receive via radar, cameras, and other connected vehicle systems. These testing systems, which also span hardware-in-the-loop technology that evaluates physical components in traffic and environmental scenarios, and vehicle dynamics analysis, will support work commencing at CAVE.

From that platform, CAVE and its real-time, high-fidelity traffic simulations will link to laboratories across the country, while subjecting actual powertrains to scenarios using vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

The CAVE Laboratory is part of the National Transportation Research Center, DOE’s only designated user facility focused on performing early-stage research and transportation technologies development.

A second initiative involves the expansion of the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. The recycling and recovery of advanced manufacturing materials research is conducted at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL — DOE’s only designated user facility focused on performing early-stage research and development in advanced manufacturing.

The CAVE Laboratory’s connected and automated vehicle research is supported by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Vehicle Technologies Office and by ORNL investments. New composites’ recycling capabilities are supported through EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Published: September 2020
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