Canadian Manufacturing

U of T student wins national competition for eco-driving training research

Research utilizes simulator-based eco-driving training for fleet drivers to encourage fuel-efficient driving behaviour



TORONTO—A University of Toronto student has won the AUTO21 TestDRIVE competition for her work on reducing automotive carbon emissions through eco-driving techniques.

Turuna Seecharan, a post-doctoral fellow, won the national automotive research competition, and a $7,000 prize, for her research that utilizes simulator-based eco-driving training for fleet drivers to encourage fuel-efficient driving behaviour.

Results from Seecharan’s research show that a simulator-based eco-driving training program can improve the driving behaviour of fleet drivers, lead to a sustained improvement in driving behaviour and encourage a high-level of motivation in drivers to learn eco-driving techniques.

Eco-driving techniques, according to AUTO21, an auto-related research and development (R&D) initiative, can reduce fuel consumption by 10 per cent on average.

The TestDRIVE competition showcased leading edge technologies and automotive knowledge developed in part by Canadian university graduate students.

“It is important to connect Canada’s scientific strength to the marketplace and help our excellent new graduates build their careers here where they were educated,” Dr. Peter Frise, scientific director and CEO of AUTO21, said in a statement.

“(The) TestDRIVE competition showcases our nation’s strong academic and public sector scientific knowledge creation capacity, which is essential in augmenting Canada’s innovation agenda, creating high value jobs and strengthening a vital part of the nation’s manufacturing base.”

In addition to the $7,000 prize, a $3,500 prize was awarded to Kinga Eliasz of Hamilton, Ont.-based McMaster University for her research on an in-car recording device that quantifies changes in actual on-road driving behaviour in older drivers.

AUTO21 provides funding to 38 applied R&D projects at 48 universities across the country, with more than 400 students and nearly 200 academic researchers contirbuting to the projects.

The organization supports research in six key areas: Health, safety and injury prevention; societal issues; materials and manufacturing; design processes; powertrains, fuels and emissions; and intelligent systems and sensors.

AUTO21 is funded by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and its administrative centre is hosted by the University of Windsor.

Its average annual research budget is approximately $11 million.

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