Optimal Control of Hybrid Electric Vehicles for Real-World Driving Patterns

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Optimal control of energy flows in a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is crucial to maximising the benefits of hybridisation. The problem is complex because the optimal solution depends on future power demands, which are often unknown. Stochastic Dynamic Programming (SDP) is among the most advanced control optimisation algorithms proposed and incorporates a stochastic representation of the future. The potential of a fully developed SDP controller has not yet been demonstrated on a real vehicle; this work presents what is believed to be the most concerted and complete attempt to do so.In characterising typical driving patterns of the target vehicles this work included the development and trial of an eco-driving driver assistance system; this aims to reduce fuel consumption by encouraging reduced rates of acceleration and efficient use of the gears via visual and audible feedback. Field trials were undertaken using 15 light commercial vehicles over four weeks covering a total of 39,300 km. Average fuel savings of 7.6% and up to 12% were demonstrated. Data from the trials were used to assess the degree to which various legislative test cycles represent the vehicles’ real-world use and the LA92 cycle was found to be the closest statistical match. Various practical considerations in SDP controller development are addressed such as the choice of discount factor and how charge sustaining characteristics of the policy can be examined and adjusted. These contributions are collated into a method for robust implementation of the SDP algorithm. Most reported HEV controllers neglect the significant complications resulting from extensive use of the electrical powertrain at high power, such as increased heat generation and battery stress. In this work a novel cost function incorporates the square of battery C-rate as an indicator of electric powertrain stress, with the aim of lessening the affliction of real-world concerns such as temperatures and battery health. Controllers were tested in simulation and then implemented on a test vehicle; the challenges encountered in doing so are discussed. Testing was performed on a chassis dynamometer using the LA92 test cycle and the novel cost function was found to enable the SDP algorithm to reduce electrical powertrain stress by 13% without sacrificing any fuel savings, which is likely to be beneficial to battery health.
Date of Award22 May 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris Brace (Supervisor) & Sam Akehurst (Supervisor)


  • hybrid electric vehicle (HEV)
  • optimal control
  • stochastic control
  • fuel consumption
  • retrofit
  • driver behavior
  • eco-driving
  • battery stress
  • battery health
  • battery management system (BMS)

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