(5) beta testers sought for new technology

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Fuel Economy' started by Pedal Logic, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Pedal Logic invested the last five years developing a new technology that increases the mileage and range of electric, hybrid, and combustion vehicles. For purposes of credibility, I should mention that we have already been awarded multiple patents in the US (with more pending overseas) and have been both field- and closed-course tested on a very wide range of vehicles, especially commercial and defense platforms.

    Branded as "Smartpedal," we describe what it does as "pedal signal correction." Physically speaking, it's software and electronics encapsulated in a small device about the size of an iPhone charger. When snap fit between the accelerator pedal and the pedal wiring harness, Smartpedal analyzes and corrects the electrical signal generated by the pedal to eliminate unintentional changes in requested power by the driver.

    Before you say "I never do that," let me explain that these unintentional changes are an unavoidable phenomenon of driving over a roadway: all roadway surfaces have imperfections that cause vehicles to move up/down while passing over them. This cyclical motion typically occurs at least once a second and more commonly several times a second even at relatively low speeds. (FYI, a vehicle travels 36 feet per second at 25 MPH.)

    This underlying vehicle movement in turn causes the driver's foot to change pressure on the pedal continually, usually starting about 100 ms after the original vehicle movement. That 1/10th of a second timing is important: it's far too brief for human reflexes to respond, but enough for an automated process to analyze and correct the signal.

    So that's how it works. In terms of performance, in testing to date Smartpedal saves about a month's worth of gas annually on the gen3 platform. We haven't tested on the gen4 yet but expect similar results.

    We currently sell to cities for deployment on transit buses but are considering offering a consumer version in 2017. Before making that decision, we want to more broadly test not just the mileage results, but also the driving experience, and our experience as a company engaging with, and supporting, consumers.

    For those purposes, we seek (5) beta testers driving either a Prius gen3/gen4, Prius v or Prius c. Installation and removal are usually accomplished in about 10 minutes and are completely non-destructive. It's pure plug-and-play technology--see the attached pictures.

    Our ideal candidates are people who:
    - are highly attentive to mileage;
    - own a candidate vehicle with at least 10K on the odometer;
    - travel at least 300-400 miles every two weeks in mixed city/hwy driving;
    - do not drive with cruise control; and
    - drive in a "regular" style that most consumers would recognize (i.e., not hyper-miling).

    Please PM me directly if you want to participate. If you're a good candidate, I'll send you a promo code for ordering a no-cost test unit (it's a loaner) through our website. We pay the outbound and inbound shipping, so there's no money out of your pocket at any point.

    The testing will likely run for about 8 weeks with a new mode tried every two weeks. In addition to mileage data, we want your subjective feedback about driving experience. At the end of the series, we will also ask you to recommend the pricing that would make this an easy decision for consumers. (We anticipate that these recommendations will be much lower than the pricing for transit buses.) At the wrap up of the test, we will gift full production units to participants to express our appreciation.

    Again, please PM me if you want to participate. Thank you for reading this. Best regards,

    Marc
    Pedal Logic

    Toyota T-1-2.jpg Toyota T-1-1 w Q. green.jpg Toyota Pedal.jpg
     
    #1 Pedal Logic, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    welcome! i'm in, but don't qualify.:unsure: all the best!(y)
     
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  3. bobzchemist

    bobzchemist Active Member

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    I really like this idea. I don't drive enough for your test, but please let us all know when this goes commercial, I want one.

    I may not be your ideal target customer, but I'd need this gadget to be in the $100 range for me to justify buying it. I know it's a big markdown from the $795 you're charging on your website. Since I suspect that similar results could be achieved by one of it's ECO modes, your competition is the Apexi Accel controller at $150 - $185

    SMART Accel Controller



    I may not be your ideal target customer, but I'd need this gadget to be in the $100 range for me to justify buying it. I know it's a big markdown from the $795 you're charging on your website. Since I suspect that similar results could be achieved by one of it's ECO modes, your competition is the Apexi Accel controller at $150 - $185

    SMART Accel Controller

     
    #3 bobzchemist, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2016
  4. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi Bobzchemist,

    I agree with the price points you made, including that the likely price should be in the $100 range. In theory, I also see why on the surface the Apexi looks like a reasonable approximation but, for the record, we're pretty much the opposite in terms of electronics, software, and safety.

    We're designed to identify and correct for unintentional acceleration by the driver with the goal of producing better mileage. We do this through the use of probabilistic analysis, kind of divining the driver's intent from the past and current pedal movement along with accelerometer data showing movement of the vehicle.

    Apexi sells their device to car enthusiasts who want to hit higher RPMs more quickly. To achieve that goal, the Apexi device simply increases the acceleration signal voltage by XX%--as if the driver pressed the pedal more deeply to the floor. There's no accelerometer (and probably no historical data either). They recently added an "ECO" mode that reverses this process, reducing pedal voltage to slow the rate of acceleration. It's not a "smart" system for improving mileage; it's a filter to increase or slow the rate of acceleration.

    With regard to the latter, studies show that slowing acceleration overall does not improve mileage--instead it reduces mileage. This is because the slower acceleration delays the time for the vehicle to reach it's fuel economy sweet spot--the optimized area of the BSFC mapping. The best practices in this regard is to accelerate "briskly" to the target speed and then cruise.

    I apologize for soap boxing and will step down now.

    Marc
     
    #3 Pedal Logic, Dec 7, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  5. slewinson

    slewinson Junior Member

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    Hi Marc, I would be interested and own both a Gen3 Prius and a CT200h. The CT generally gets 200km per week in short commute and also highway driving.live in a rural area and the terrain is far from flat with pretty ordinary road surfaces.

    Only issue is that I am in Australia.

    Simon
     
  6. Prodigyplace

    Prodigyplace Senior Member

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    If you want Gen 4 users, perhaps you should post in the Gen 4 forum too. Gen 4 Prius Fuel Economy | PriusChat

    My car is too new ans I am not sure that I drive enough to meet your testing requirements.
     
  7. bobzchemist

    bobzchemist Active Member

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    Marc,

    "Soapboxing" is good. I don't know enough about your product or the Apexi product to figure out the differences, and I'm glad you pointed them out. I'm even more determined to buy one of these devices as soon as they are available.

    I know just enough about electronics to be dangerous, but I thought I'd point out that there's quite a market out there for someone who can come up with a hand throttle, or a combined throttle/brake, for folks who don't have good control over/use of their legs. I also know several folks who can't drive because they can't control their movements precisely enough, and my thought is that your technology might be able to help there as well.
     
  8. qdllc

    qdllc Senior Member

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    PM sent.
     
  9. first_superior_prius

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    Very interesting. I am not in the ideal range because I have 4500 on the odometer and use cruise control >50% of the time

    Regarding price point, if it shaves 8 to 10% off your gas bill on a Prius, that isn't much in terms of dollar impact. Driving 20,000 miles per year at 55 MPG with gas at $2.50 a gallon is an annual fuel bill of about $900. I would think that most consumers would want a break-even point within 2 years, give or take a year. Saving 90 dollars per year in fuel would mean a price point in the 100-200 dollar range. I would certainly be interested in purchasing such a product if the driving experience wasn't too different than normal operation and if the device was reliable and had decent longevity
     
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  10. Kramah313

    Kramah313 Active Member

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    PM has been sent - I fit your criteria very closely
     
  11. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi FSP,
    Really well put and good analysis. I agree with all your points. To answer your questions about reliability and longevity, see the next message in this thread.

    Marc
     
  12. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    PM sent and looking forward to your responses to my questions :).
     
  13. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have already received a lot of PMs to beta test -- thank you! -- and plan to sort through the list tomorrow. There's a good chance I'll send out 1-2 more devices to testers, but won't be able to get the whole group.

    On a related note, one of the potential testers submitted a list of very sensible questions that others may have as well. Those questions and the answers are pasted immediately below:

    • What is the interaction with the on board diagnostic systems?
    Smartpedal is transparent to OBD. The car doesn't know it's there.
    • Can the device cause any delay in response or over response from the throttle?
    No delay in response at the default mode, which is designed to deliver the mileage I described above. However, the devices will ship with five built-in modes. A couple of those modes will noticeably affect responsiveness, but they are included for you to experiment with if you choose. By design and as a safety measure, the system is never "over" responsive.
    • Does the device have gps tracking?
    No. Our system only focuses on fuel savings.
    • What would happen if the device does not work when installed and the car is in operation?
    Smartpedal has a built-in pass-through that engages if the system detects an uncorrectable error: in those circumstances, the vehicle is still fully operable, but goes back to normal mileage.
    • How is data recorded for your testing?
    Primarily by you. We will ask you to occasionally report mileage and driving experience with the different modes. At the end of the test, we'll also ask for your suggestions regarding pricing.

    The only data we automatically record is generic pedal and accelerometer data, which tells us how bouncy the roads were that your vehicle travelled and the effect on pedal usage.
    • Who is your data shared with?
    We don't share. In fact, we erase the devices after the test series.​
     
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  14. saltdiscus

    saltdiscus Member

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    Hi
    I think I meet all these check boxes since I drive 7 days a week inner and outer city around Boston.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
  15. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Coupons and ordering info for those of you in the beta program are being sent out this morning. In the meantime, below is a quick summary of the installation process, which is designed to take about 10-15 minutes on a Prius.
    1. Wait 3 minutes after turning ignition off, then unsnap the wire harness from the top of the accelerator pedal assembly.
    2. Snap the wire harness to the mating connector on Smartpedal.
    3. Snap Smartpedal to the accelerator pedal assembly.
    In case you're wondering, by design there is no way to install Smartpedal backwards. If any of steps 1-3 are skipped, the vehicle is still safe — it will not accelerate until the pedal is properly connected.

    To generate the best mileage out of the gates, after installation you may want to perform manually a one-time calibration. Here's how to do that:
    • WITHOUT touching the brake pedal, press the power button _twice_ to power up the vehicle's accelerator pedal and accessories.
    • Then briefly press the accelerator pedal fully to the floor before releasing it fully.
    If you have trouble with the manual calibration or forget to do it, don’t worry—Smartpedal will calibrate itself as you drive.

    Questions? Please email [email protected] [youknowtherest]. Thanks for your participation!

    Best,
    Marc
     
  16. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Your Smartpedal beta unit will have five built-in driving modes, each producing a different combination of mileage and driving experience. Here's a brief description:
    • Mode 4 (Default). Offers probably the best balance of driving experience and mileage. You will probably like this mode regardless of whether you drive using your Prius' built-in ECO or POWER settings.
    • Mode 3 implements pedal signal correction in a different way, resulting in a noticeable effect on driving for most drivers, although less so when using the Prius' built-in ECO mode.
    • Mode 2 is a less aggressive version of mode 4: same method but with less aggressive corrections.
    • Mode 1 is a less aggressive version of mode 3.
    • Mode 5 is the wild card: an extremely aggressive version mode 4. It will noticeably affect the driving experience and is only for fanatics.
    Changing modes is easy to do; directions will ship with your beta unit. Please drive about 300-500 miles in each mode and then send a PM with your mileage and subjective impression of the driving experience. At the end of the evaluation, we’ll also ask you to recommend retail pricing that you believe would be sensible.

    P.S. if cold weather has hit where you live and you haven't done so already, please establish a cold weather baseline before starting the test series so we can have apples-to-apples comparisons.

    Thanks! Please message if any questions or need additional detail.

    Best,
    Marc
     
  17. qdllc

    qdllc Senior Member

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    The weather changes unpredictably here. We're in the "cold" season, but it's been from below freezing to mid-50s. What's a "baseline?" My Fuelly account has tracked the mileage I've been getting since day one, so at least you can refer back to prior year data for a comparison as well.
     
  18. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    "We describe what it does as "pedal signal correction." Physically speaking, it's software and electronics encapsulated in a small device about the size of an iPhone charger. When snap fit between the accelerator pedal and the pedal wiring harness, Smartpedal analyzes and corrects the electrical signal generated by the pedal to eliminate unintentional changes in requested power by the driver."

    So am I to understand it is actually changing the electric signal from the accelerator to the vehicle created by the vehicles drive by wire system? -"corrects the electrical signal"?

    How is this correction implemented? *

    * If this is a " I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" revelation then never mind.
     
    #17 The Electric Me, Dec 14, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  19. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi qdllc,
    Unpredictability is always in issue in field testing. My suggestion: use the combined average MPG from the last 2-4 fill ups, and adjust the size/length of the control as needed if weather and temps over the next few weeks deviate significantly from those of the original control.

    Marc
     
  20. Pedal Logic

    Pedal Logic Active Member

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    Hi The Electric Me,

    You got it right: Smartpedal analyzes and corrects the pair of electrical signals that communicate the current pedal position to the engine control unit. We're definitely not a force-feedback system that pushes on a pedal or a driver-assistance system that provides visual feedback to cue different driving behavior.

    You asked about implementation. We utilize probabilistic analysis to determine whether the current position of the accelerator pedal likely reflects the driver's intent or has been influenced by vehicle movement. If the latter, we correct the signal to reflect what we think was the actual likely intent of the driver.

    You'll notice in the above that this is an expert system. Powering the system is a 32-bit CPU, which is informed by data from an accelerometer as well as historical pedal data. To make a correction, the system has to reach a threshold determination that a particular acceleration event was unintentional (or at least exaggerated) due to vehicle movement.

    The end user can adjust the correction threshold by selecting between the (5) different driving modes built into the beta units. A "high" threshold means Smartpedal must be very sure that acceleration was unintentional before making a correction: these thresholds increase mileage without any noticeable change in performance or handling.

    On the other hand, a very "low" threshold can result in over corrections that also influence intentional acceleration by the drive. Drivers tend to respond to the by consciously or unconsciously over-accelerating. For this reason, we find that "moderate" settings generally produce the best mileage. Nevertheless, as an experiment, in the beta units we also include a mode 5 set to an extremely-low threshold.

    Our website has more details too, plus a nifty video we made. We're full on beta testers though. I'm not sure if we'll need to do a second round.

    Marc
     
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  21. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Thanks for your reply.
    I guess this leads me to these "difficult" questions.

    I remember a few years back, with all the alleged "unintended acceleration" cases, Toyota and other manufacturers went to great lengths to prove and support that their "drive by wire" electronic systems were secure and safe. That the whole system...both software and hardware was safe from being influenced by outside sources.

    I would wonder how automakers would feel about ANY even well intentioned, circumvention of their system?
    And what safeguards are in place to make sure your product is safe from failure?
     
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