Save the Planet with Machine Learning


WP_20141113_002I have a new car and I love it. To achieve better fuel efficiency, it tells me when to shift. Now I like to get to know my car, so I keep a close eye on how much fuel I use. The display can show me this in real-time. While driving home yesterday I noticed something odd.

When I drove 130 km/h, the car used the same amount of fuel when driving 100 km/h in the same gear (as suggested by the car). My assumption was that 100 km/h was too slow for that particular gear. I tested this assumption by shifting back a gear on the next 100 km/h stretch. Even though my car was telling me to shift to 6th gear, I found that in 5th gear the car used 0.3 l/100km less fuel. This morning I tried again, and found no difference between 5th and 6th gear. Apparently there are environmental factors (e.g wind, incline, engine temperature etc.) that influence which gear is most efficient. The algorithm in my car doesn’t take this into account. It just looks at speed and acceleration to determine the right gear.

We could try to make the algorithm smarter, but that is a flawed approach. The premise that we can create an algorithm upfront that makes the best calculation is fundamentally wrong. This is a perfect case for Microsoft Azure Machine Learning. Through learning it can figure out when to use which gear based on telemetry data. And not just for my car, but all the cars of the same model. There are approximately 1 billion cars in the world. Assuming these drive an average of 10,000 km a year, saving just 0.1 l/100km would save 1 trillion liters of fuel per year.

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  1. Jos Punter November 21, 2014 Reply

    You drive a peugeot 308 🙂