Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI highlights NEXTCAR II project innovations at 2024 ARPA-E Innovation Summit

May 22, 2024 — Southwest Research Institute will share the latest developments from its ongoing NEXTCAR Phase II project at the 2024 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Dallas (May 22-24). The Institute’s NEXTCAR Program aims to reduce vehicular energy consumption by more than 30% using next generation connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology.

“We are demonstrating real-world next-generation automated driving technology that puts SwRI’s ongoing NEXTCAR energy efficiency research into practice,” said SwRI’s Scott R. Hotz, P.E., director of the Powertrain Engineering Division’s Control Systems Department in SwRI’s Ann Arbor office. “The demonstration at the ARPA-E Innovation Summit will give energy industry stakeholders a first look at the technology innovations that we have been working on during Phase II.”

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded SwRI a three-year, $5.25 million contract through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) NEXTCAR (NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles) program for the second phase of the project. SwRI’s NEXTCAR project is an iterative program that builds upon each successive phase. The technology developed during Phase I received an R&D 100 Award in 2021.

Now in Phase II, SwRI’s NEXTCAR project is using CAV technology and Level 4 (L4) automated driving systems to develop a specialized algorithm suite providing 30% energy savings.

“We are showcasing advanced energy-saving technology, including simulations that indicate extensive efficiency improvements, with the potential to deliver energy savings up to 30%,” said Stas Gankov, SwRI manager and a leader of the NEXTCAR project alongside Hotz. “Our real-world driving tests demonstrate similar efficiency.”

The annual ARPA-E Innovation Summit gathers nearly 3,000 government, academic and energy industry experts to experience next-generation energy technologies and learn about advanced technology trends. The SwRI team will demo its NEXTCAR vehicle’s eco-driving and automated driving features on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center’s demonstration area.

Adapted from a commercially available plug-in hybrid sedan, SwRI’s automated driving platform fuses widely adopted sensing technologies, such as lidar, with SwRI’s patented Ranger localization technology. The vehicle integrates cooperative control capabilities, smart lane merging and changing functionality, and SwRI’s drive-by-wire system, which works the vehicle’s accelerator, brake pedals and electronic power steering system.

“SwRI's groundbreaking research has already yielded promising results through the technology we are showcasing at the ARPA-E Innovation Summit this week,” Hotz said. “We continue to explore additional avenues for research, and we are excited to see where our NEXTCAR work goes from here.”

SwRI is a Technology Development Partner of the ARPA-E Innovation Summit. SwRI will have two booths this year at the summit’s popular Technology Showcase: Booth #1336 in the NEXTCAR section and Booth #1502 in the partner’s section. For more information about the event, visit:

The “Eco-Mobility with Connected Powertrains” technology suite and Phase II developments are available to license. Phase III of SwRI’s NEXTCAR is currently under development. The project team seeks collaborators and industry members for a potential joint industry program/consortium. For more information, visit Connected Powertrain Solutions or contact Scott Hotz at +1 210 522 2606 to learn more.

Watch a video highlighting SwRI’s NEXTCAR II project:

For more information, contact Jesús Chávez at +1 210 522 2258, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.