Advanced Vehicle Systems Research Program

The Advanced Vehicle Systems (AVS) Research Program resides within the Energy and Transportation Science Division, Energy and Engineering Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

"Significant improvements in vehicle efficiency and emissions will require an improved understanding of the interaction of advanced hybrid electric drive systems and control strategies with other efficiency technologies such as thermal energy recovery as well as emissions reduction technologies including advanced combustion operating regimes and advanced aftertreatment systems."


“To provide key expertise for testing, evaluation, simulation, and integration of advanced vehicle technologies that will facilitate better understanding of the benefits of these technologies to the transportation sector.”


The ORNL AVS strives to maintain a cohesive and integrated research program that draws upon advanced engine technologies, advanced power electronics and electric machines, and laboratory-to-roadside testing, evaluation, modeling and analysis to meet the research needs of the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies and to support public decision making regarding the benefits of adopting advanced energy efficient transportation technologies.


The AVS R&D Program draws upon and integrates ORNL’s core transportation research strengths.  These strengths are:

  • Advanced Engine Technologies – advanced combustion modes, fuels, thermal energy recovery, emissions aftertreatment, etc.
  • Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Machines – motor drives, components, power electronics devices, advanced converter topologies, etc.
  • Vehicle Testing and Evaluation – chassis and component dynamometers, integrated powertrain stands, test track evaluations, field operational testing, etc.
  • Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis – data collected from vehicle testing and evaluation are used to develop and utilize sophisticated models and simulations, and through appropriate analyses develop an understanding of the performance and benefits of advanced transportation technologies.

The Vehicle Systems Integration (VSI) Laboratory offers unique capabilities to evaluate and simulate engines, electric motors, and transmissions in conventional and hybrid powertrain configurations for vehicles ranging from light-duty cars to Class 8 trucks. The VSI Lab is changing the pace of powertrain development by performing prototype research and characterization of advanced systems on a component level. Housed at NTRC, the VSI Lab comprises a powertrain test cell with twin AVL 500 kW AC transient dynamometers and a component test cell – both share energy storage system emulation and dSPACE hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) real-time platform capabilities. The VSI Lab also features “X”-in-the-loop hardware evaluation of powertrain components and/or subsystems in virtual vehicle environments, where “X” represents any experimental component or subsystem.

The ORNL AVS Research Program believes in strengthening its knowledge base through close collaborations with industry, academia, and other government entities (such as national laboratories).  Industry involvement is key to the development, transfer, and commercialization of successful technologies.  Collaboration with expertise at the academic level as well as other national laboratories is important to make efficient use of all available resources and to provide improved cost-benefit to DOE.

Program Contact

David E. Smith, AVS Program Manager



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