Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Bo Chen

Committee Member 1

Darrell Robinette

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey Naber

Committee Member 3

Jeffrey Burl


The continued push for the reduction of energy consumption across the automotive vehicle fleet has led to widespread adoption of hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) by auto manufacturers. In addition, connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies have seen rapid development in recent years and bring with them the potential to significantly impact vehicle energy consumption. This dissertation studies predictive control methods for PHEV powertrains that are enabled by CAV technologies with the goal of reducing vehicle energy consumption.

First, a real-time predictive powertrain controller for PHEV energy management is developed. This controller utilizes predictions of future vehicle velocity and power demand in order to optimize powersplit decisions of the vehicle. This predictive powertrain controller utilizes nonlinear model predictive control (NMPC) to perform this optimization while being cognizant of future vehicle behavior.

Second, the developed NMPC powertrain controller is thoroughly evaluated both in simulation and real-time testing. The controller is assessed over a large number of standardized and real-world drive cycles in simulation in order to properly quantify the energy savings benefits of the controller. In addition, the NMPC powertrain controller is deployed onto a real-time rapid prototyping embedded controller installed in a test vehicle. Using this real-time testing setup, the developed NMPC powertrain controller is evaluated using on-road testing for both energy savings performance and real-time performance.

Third, a real-time integrated predictive powertrain controller (IPPC) for a multi-mode PHEV is presented. Utilizing predictions of future vehicle behavior, an optimal mode path plan is computed in order to determine a mode command best suited to the future conditions. In addition, this optimal mode path planning controller is integrated with the NMPC powertrain controller to create a real-time integrated predictive powertrain controller that is capable of full supervisory control for a multi-mode PHEV.

Fourth, the IPPC is evaluated in simulation testing across a range of standard and real-world drive cycles in order to quantify the energy savings of the controller. This analysis is comprised of the combined benefit of the NMPC powertrain controller and the optimal mode path planning controller. The IPPC is deployed onto a rapid prototyping embedded controller for real-time evaluation. Using the real-time implementation of the IPPC, on-road testing was performed to assess both energy benefits and real-time performance of the IPPC.

Finally, as the controllers developed in this research were evaluated for a single vehicle platform, the applicability of these controllers to other platforms is discussed. Multiple cases are discussed on how both the NMPC powertrain controller and the optimal mode path planning controller can be applied to other vehicle platforms in order to broaden the scope of this research.