(19)
(11)EP 2 860 057 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
14.08.2019 Bulletin 2019/33

(21)Application number: 13800906.3

(22)Date of filing:  07.06.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B60L 7/24  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2013/065847
(87)International publication number:
WO 2013/183764 (12.12.2013 Gazette  2013/50)

(54)

ENERGY ESTIMATION DEVICE, VEHICLE INFORMATION SYSTEM, SERVER DEVICE

ENERGIESCHÄTZUNGSVORRICHTUNG, FAHRZEUGINFORMATIONSSYSTEM, SERVER-VORRICHTUNG

DISPOSITIF D'ESTIMATION DE L'ÉNERGIE, SYSTÈME D'INFORMATIONS DE VÉHICULE, DISPOSITIF SERVEUR


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 07.06.2012 JP 2012130133

(43)Date of publication of application:
15.04.2015 Bulletin 2015/16

(73)Proprietors:
  • Clarion Co., Ltd.
    Saitama-shi, Saitama 330-0081 (JP)
  • NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
    Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 221-0023 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • TAGAWA, Shinya
    Saitama-shi, Saitama 330-0081 (JP)
  • MUTOU, Keisuke
    Saitama-shi, Saitama 330-0081 (JP)
  • ENDO, Masaki
    Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 244-0817 (JP)
  • SUGIMOTO, Mika
    Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 221-0023 (JP)

(74)Representative: MERH-IP Matias Erny Reichl Hoffmann Patentanwälte PartG mbB 
Paul-Heyse-Strasse 29
80336 München
80336 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 071 285
JP-A- 2010 101 745
JP-A- 2011 059 921
JP-A- 2012 144 059
JP-A- 2002 274 219
JP-A- 2011 016 425
JP-A- 2012 083 178
US-A1- 2011 060 495
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD



    [0001] The present invention relates to an energy estimation device that estimates the level of energy related to the travel of a vehicle.

    BACKGROUND ART



    [0002] With respect to the estimation of the level of energy related to the travel of a vehicle, a car navigation device known in the related art estimates the quantity of energy consumption necessitated as the vehicle travels by estimating a vehicle travel pattern and predicting the quantity of fuel consumption in correspondence to each road link based upon the estimated travel pattern and searches for the route requiring the least fuel consumption (see Patent Literature 1).
    In EP 2071285 A1 a display device for a vehicle and a method of controlling the display device is described. The vehicle has a plurality of travelling modes. A display device for the vehicle comprises the display unit, a displaying map information and a controlling unit causing the display unit to display recognizably, at a portion of roads in the map information, travelling modes that correspond to the roads. The control unit sets a destination in response to an instruction received from an operator and searches for a travelling route extending from a starting point to the destination. The display device is for a hybrid vehicle.

    CITATION LIST


    PATENT LITERATURE



    [0003] PATENT LITERATURE 1: Japanese Laid Open Patent Publication No. 2010-107459.

    SUMMARY OF INVENTION


    TECHNICAL PROBLEM



    [0004] The car navigation device disclosed in the patent literature 1 estimates the quantity of fuel consumption in correspondence to each road link by summing quantities of basic consumption by the engine, loss of positional energy, friction resistance loss, air resistance loss, and acceleration loss. However, no consideration has been made on the regeneration energy that is obtained as a result of the electric power generation by rotating an electric motor during deceleration. For this reason, it is difficult to apply the above conventional car navigation device to vehicles such as electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles utilizing regenerated energy.

    [0005] An object of the present invention, having been completed by addressing the issues in the related art discussed above, is to accurately predict the level of energy related to the travel of the vehicle.

    SOLUTION TO PROBLEM



    [0006] To solve the problems, the features of the independent claims are suggested. Preferred developments are in the dependent claims.

    ADVANTAGEOUS EFFECT OF THE INVENTION



    [0007] According to the present invention, the level of the energy related to the travel of vehicles utilizing regenerated energy can be predicted accurately.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0008] 

    A diagram illustrating the configuration of an on-vehicle system including a navigation device according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

    A diagram illustrating the configuration of the navigation device according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

    A flowchart illustrating electric energy estimation processing;

    A diagram illustrating the configuration of an information system for automotive according to a second embodiment of the present invention;

    A diagram illustrating the configuration of an on-vehicle system in the information system for automotive according to the second embodiment of the present invention;

    A diagram illustrating the configuration of the navigation device in the information system for automotive according to the second embodiment of the present invention;

    A flowchart illustrating acceleration/deceleration information transmission processing;

    A diagram illustrating how acceleration/deceleration changeovers are detected;

    A flowchart illustrating loss/regeneration parameters calculation processing;

    A diagram illustrating how a given segment may be determined to be a loss segment or a regeneration segment;

    A diagram illustrating examples of loss/regeneration parameters.

    A diagram illustrating a method for calculating statistical parameters;

    A flowchart illustrating current travel limit estimation processing; and

    A diagram illustrating an example of display of the current travel limit area.


    DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS


    (First Embodiment)



    [0009] Hereafter, a first embodiment of the present invention is described. According to the first embodiment, explanation is made on an example of a navigation device to which the estimation of the level of the energy related to the travel of a vehicle according to the present invention is applied.

    [0010] FIG. 1 presents a diagram illustrating the configuration of an on-vehicle system including the navigation device according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 1, a vehicle 80, which is an electric vehicle (EV: Electric Vehicle), includes having mounted thereon a navigation device 1, a vehicle control device 2, a battery 3, a power conversion device 4, and an electric motor 5.

    [0011] The battery 3 provides electric power used to drive the electric motor 5. The vehicle 80 is able to travel as the electric motor 5 is driven with the electric power provided from the battery 3. In addition, when the vehicle 80 is in a decelerating state, the electric motor 5 functions as a generator and generates electric power through regenerative power generation. The electric power obtained through regenerative power generation is stored in the battery 3. The power conversion device 4 converts the different types of electric power exchanged between the battery 3 and the electric motor 5 so that a given type of power is altered to a state usable by the recipient. For instance, the power conversion device 4 converts DC power provided from the battery 3 to AC power and outputs the AC power resulting from the conversion to the electric motor 5, whereas it converts AC power resulting from regenerative power generation at the electric motor 5 to DC power and outputs the DC power resulting from the conversion to the battery 3.

    [0012] The vehicle control device 2 monitors the traveling conditions of the vehicle 80, the state of the battery 3, the state of the electric motor 5 and the like, and controls the operation of the power conversion device 4 based upon the monitoring results. As the power conversion device 4 operates under control executed by the vehicle control device 2, optimal power exchange between the battery 3 and the electric motor 5 takes place in correspondence to the traveling conditions of the vehicle 80. Through this process, the kinetic energy required to move the vehicle 80 can be generated at the electric motor 5 by using the electric energy stored in the battery 3. In addition, electric energy in the form of reusable regenerated energy can be stored in the battery 3 by collecting at least a part of the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle 80 via the electric motor 5.

    [0013] The navigation device 1 displays a map based upon map data and guides the vehicle 80 to a selected destination via a recommended route determined through a route search. On this occasion, as electric energy estimation processing for estimating the level of the energy related to the traveling of the vehicle 80 is performed at the navigation device 1, the navigation device 1 is able to perform guidance for the vehicle in correspondence to the level of electric energy. The electric energy estimation processing executed by the navigation device 1 will be explained later in specific detail.

    [0014] FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrating the configuration of the navigation device 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The navigation device 1 comprises a control unit 10, a GPS (global positioning system) reception unit 11, a vibration gyro 12, a vehicle speed sensor 13, a hard disk drive (HDD) 14, a display monitor 15, a speaker 16 and an input device 17.

    [0015] The control unit 10, configured with a microprocessor, various types of peripheral circuits, a RAM, a ROM and the like, executes various types of processing based upon a control program and map data recorded in the HDD 14. For instance, the control unit 10 executes destination search processing executed when setting a destination, recommended route search processing executed to determine a recommended route to the selected destination, current position detection processing executed to detect the current position of the vehicle 80, various types of image display processing and sound output processing. Furthermore, the control unit 10 is able to perform the electric energy estimation processing described later.

    [0016] The GPS reception unit 11 receives a GPS signal transmitted from a GPS satellite and outputs the GPS signal thus received to the control unit 10. The GPS signal contains information pertaining to the relative position of the GPS satellite from which the particular GPS signal originated and the transmission time point at which the GPS signal was transmitted, which can be used to determine the current location of the vehicle 80. Accordingly, based upon this information contained in GPS signals originating from a predetermined minimum number of GPS satellites and received via the GPS reception unit 11, the control unit 10 is able to calculate the current position of the vehicle 80.

    [0017] The vibration gyro 12 is a sensor that detects the angular velocity of the vehicle 80. The vehicle speed sensor 13 is a sensor that detects the traveling speed of the vehicle 80. Based upon the results of calculation executed based upon the detection results obtained by the sensor, indicating the direction along which the vehicle 80 has moved and the extent of displacement of the vehicle 80, and the results of calculation executed based upon the GPS signals described earlier, which indicate the current position of the vehicle 80, the control unit 10 executes position detection processing over predetermined time intervals and thus, the current position of the vehicle 80 is detected.

    [0018] In the HDD 14, which is a nonvolatile recording medium, the control program enabling the execution of the processing described above by the control unit 10, the map data and the like are recorded. Under control executed by the control unit 10, data recorded in the HDD 14 are read out as necessary to be utilized in various types of processing and control executed by the control unit 10.

    [0019] The map data recorded in the HDD 14 include route calculation data, road data and background data. The route calculation data are used in a recommended route search executed to determine a recommended route to a destination and the like. The road data express road shapes, road types and the like. The background data express background of a map. It is to be noted that background of a map refers to objects other than roads, present on the map. For instance, rivers, railway tracks, green areas, various types of structures and the like are expressed by the background data.

    [0020] The term "link" is used to refer to the smallest unit representing a portion of each road in the map data. Namely, each road is made up with a plurality of links, each corresponding to a predetermined road segment, and the route calculation data and the road data are each expressed in units of individual links. A point connecting different links, i.e., an end point at which adjoining links meet, is referred to as a node. Information pertaining to each node in the map data includes position information (coordinate information). It is to be noted that a point referred to as a shape interpolation point may be set as necessary within a given link between the two nodes. Information on each shape interpolation point in the map data includes position information (coordinate information) as does the node information. The position information included in the node information and the shape interpolation point information determines the shape of the corresponding link, i.e., the road shape. In short, each road in the map data stored in the HDD 14 is represented by using a plurality of nodes and a plurality of links.

    [0021] For each link corresponding to a specific road segment, a value called link cost, determined in correspondence to average vehicle speed, driving time expected to elapse through the particular road segment and the like, is set in the route calculation data. The navigation device 1 searches for a recommended route by determining a specific combination of links corresponding to preselected route search conditions based upon these link costs. For instance, route search conditions may be selected so that a route is searched by giving top priority to the minimum driving time and in such a case, a specific combination of links achieving the minimum length of travel time from the start point to the destination will be calculated as a recommended route.

    [0022] It is to be noted that while explanation is made on a case in which the map data are recorded in the HDD 14 in the navigation device 1 described above, the present invention is not limited to this example and it may be adopted in conjunction with map data recorded in a recording medium other than an HDD. For instance, the present invention may be adopted in conjunction with map data recorded in a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM or a memory card. In other words, the data may be stored in any recording medium in the navigation device 1.

    [0023] The display monitor 15, at which various screens are brought up on display in the navigation device 1, is constituted with, for instance, a liquid crystal display unit. At this display monitor 15, a map screen, a recommended route guidance screen or the like is brought up on display. The specific contents of the screen brought up on display at the display monitor 15 are determined under screen display control executed by the control unit 10. The display monitor 15 is installed at a position easily visible to the user, e.g., on the dashboard or within the instrument panel in the vehicle 80.

    [0024] Through the speaker 16, various types of audio information are output under control executed by the control unit 10. For instance, audio guidance providing route guidance for the vehicle 80 to the destination along the recommended route, various types of warning sounds and the like are output through the speaker 16.

    [0025] The input device 17, which provides a user interface for performing various types of input operations in order to engage the navigation device 1 in operation, includes various types of input switches. The user is able to enter the name or the like of a facility or a geographic point he wishes to set as a destination, set the recommended route search conditions, select a destination among preregistered locations or scrolls the map along a desired direction by operating the input device 17. Such an input device 17 may be constituted with an operation panel, a remote control unit or the like. As an alternative, the input device 17 may be integrated with the display monitor 15 in the form of a touch panel.

    [0026] Once the user sets the destination and the route search conditions by operating the input device 17, the navigation device 1 designates the current position of the vehicle 80 detected, as explained earlier, as the start point, and executes route search processing by executing arithmetic processing with a predetermined algorithm based upon the route calculation data described earlier. Through this processing, a search for a recommended route from the start point to the destination is conducted. In addition, the navigation device 1 displays the recommended route determined through the search in a display mode distinguishable from other roads on the map displayed at the display monitor 15 by, for instance, displaying the recommended route in a different color. Then, it guides the vehicle 80 to the destination by outputting specific image information and audio information via the display monitor 15 and the speaker 16 as the vehicle 80 travels along the recommended route.

    [0027] Next, the electric energy estimation processing at the navigation device 1 according to the present embodiment will be explained. FIG. 3 presents a flowchart illustrating the electric energy estimation processing to be executed by the control unit 10 at the navigation device 1.

    [0028] In step S10, the control unit 10 selects a link on which the quantity of electric energy is to be estimated. In this embodiment, for instance, each of links in a route designated by the user and each of links in one or more recommended routes that have been already searched are defined as estimation target links for estimating the quantity of electric energy and each of the estimation target links thus defined is selected in order. As an alternative, in order to search a recommended route along which a minimum level of electric energy is consumed, each of the links that are present between the starting point and the destination may be defined as estimation target links for estimating the level of electric energy and selected in order.

    [0029] In step S20, the control unit 10 estimates an energy change quantity at the vehicle 80 in correspondence to the link selected in step S10. In this step, the energy change quantity of the vehicle 80 can be obtained by using an average vehicle speed, altitude and link distance that are set for the selected link in the map data and an average vehicle speed and altitude that are set for a next link adjacent to the selected link.

    [0030] For instance, assuming the average speed, altitude and link distance of the link selected in step S10 are Vk, Hk, and Lk, respectively, and the average vehicle speed and altitude of the next link are Vk+1 and Hk+1, respectively, the energy change quantity Ek can be obtained according to the following expression (1).



    [0031] In the expression (1) above, λ1, λ2, λ3, and λ4 represent an acceleration resistance coefficient, a gradient resistance coefficient, a road surface resistance coefficient, and an air resistance coefficient, respectively. These coefficients are constants, each of which depends on the features of the vehicle 80, such as weight and shape and physical constants such as acceleration of gravity. They are set in the navigation device 1 in advance.

    [0032] In step S30, the control unit 10 makes a decision as to whether or not energy is regenerated when the vehicle 80 travels along the selected link. In this step, it is possible to make a decision as to whether or not the energy is regenerated depending on whether the energy change quantity estimated in step S20 assumes a positive value or a negative value. That is, if the energy change quantity Ek calculated according to the expression (1) described above assumes a negative value, a decision can be made that the energy is regenerated in the link concerned. In this case, the process proceeds to step S40. On the other hand, if the calculated energy change quantity Ek assumes a positive value, a decision may be made that the energy is not regenerated but is consumed instead in the link concerned. In this case, the process proceeds to step S80. It is to be noted that in the following explanation, the link for which the decision is made in step S30 that the energy is regenerated is called a regeneration link.

    [0033] In step S40, the control unit 10 calculates an axle torque of the vehicle 80 in correspondence to the selected regeneration link based upon the energy change quantity estimated in step S20. In this step, by using the energy change quantity Ek calculated according to the expression (1) described above, the axle torque Tk applied to the axle of the vehicle 80 at the time of regeneration can be calculated according to the following expression (2).



    [0034] In the expression (2) described above, Lr represents a tire radius of the axle that provides, upon regeneration, driving force for power generation to the electric motor 5 in the vehicle 80, that is, a tire radius of the driving shaft that is driven by the electric motor 5 upon driving of the vehicle 80. The value of the tire radius Lr is set in advance in the navigation device 1.

    [0035] In step S50, the control unit 10 estimates the traveling speed of the vehicle 80 in correspondence to the selected regeneration link. In this step, the traveling speed Vk of the vehicle 80 in correspondence to the regeneration link concerned can be estimated based upon the average vehicle speed Vk used when the energy change quantity Ek was calculated in step S20.

    [0036] In step S60, the control unit 10 calculates an allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake of the vehicle 80 in correspondence to the selected regeneration link. In this step, an optimal value of the allocation ratio in correspondence to the characteristics of the vehicle 80 is calculated based upon the axle torque calculated in step S40 and the traveling speed estimated in step S50. The relationships between the axle torques and the traveling speeds of the vehicle 80 and the allocation ratios are stored in advance in the navigation device 1 as information in the form of a table or a function. By using the stored information, an optimal value of the allocation ratio can be calculated based upon the axle torque and the traveling speed.

    [0037] By executing the processing described above, the allocation ratio αk of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake in correspondence to the axle torque Tk calculated according to the expression (2) described above and the travel speed Vk described above can be calculated.

    [0038] It is to be noted that upon calculation of the allocation ratio in step S60, it may be modified such that no traveling speed is used and only axle torque is used. That is, the allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake may be determined from the axle torque calculated in step S40 based upon the relationships between the axle torques and the allocation ratios stored in advance in the navigation device 1. In this case, the processing in step S50 may be omitted.

    [0039] In step S70, the control unit 10 calculates an estimated power regeneration quantity in correspondence to the selected regeneration link based upon the energy change quantity estimated in step S20 and the allocation ratio calculated in step S60. In this step, an estimated power regeneration quantity Erk can be calculated according to the following expression (3) by using the energy change quantity Ek calculated according to the expression (1) described above and the allocation ratio αk described above.



    [0040] In the expression (3) described above, C represents a power conversion coefficient and R represents a regeneration coefficient. These coefficients, which are constants, respectively, which depend on the characteristics of the vehicle 80 such as a motor characteristics and a switching loss, are set in advance in the navigation device 1.

    [0041] As explained above, the power regeneration quantity in correspondence to the selected regeneration link can be estimated by executing the processing in step S70 to calculate the estimated power regeneration quantity Erk. After step S70 is executed, the process proceeds to step S90.

    [0042] On the other hand, when the process proceeds from step S30 to step S80, the control unit 10 calculates, in step S80, an estimated power consumption quantity in correspondence to the selected link based upon the energy change quantity estimated in step S20. In this step, an estimated power consumption quantity Elk can be calculated according to the following expression (4) by using the energy change quantity Ek calculated in the expression (1) described above.



    [0043] In the expression (4) described above, C, as in the expression (3), represents a power conversion coefficient that is set in advance in the navigation device 1.

    [0044] As explained above, the power consumption quantity in correspondence to the selected link can be estimated by executing the step S80 to calculate the estimated power consumption quantity Elk. After step S80 is executed, the process proceeds to step S90.

    [0045] In step S90, the control unit 10 makes a decision as to whether or not all the target links have been already selected in step S10. When all the estimation target links for estimating the quantity of electric energy as described above have been already selected and an estimated power regeneration quantity or an estimated power consumption quantity has been already calculated in correspondence to each of the selected links in step S70 or S80, respectively, the processing of the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 3 is terminated. On the other hand, when there remain some unselected target links, the process returns to step S10 and any one of the unselected target links is selected in step S10. Thereafter, the processing as described above is repeated for the selected link.

    [0046] It is to be noted that after the electric power quantity estimation processing illustrated in the flowchart in FIG. 3 is terminated, the control unit 10 is able to perform various guidance for the vehicle in correspondence to the electric power quantity by executing the predetermined processing based on the results of the electric energy estimation processing. For instance, the control unit 10 can estimate the quantity of electric power consumption when the vehicle 80 travels along a route made up by each of the selected links by summing the estimated power regeneration quantity or estimated power consumption quantity of each of the selected links and inform the user of the results of the estimation. In addition, a recommended route with a minimum electric power quantity may be searched by using the estimated power regeneration quantity or estimated power consumption quantity of each of the links.

    [0047] According to the first embodiment of the present invention as explained above, the following operations and advantageous effects can be obtained.
    1. (1) Through processing by the control unit 10, the navigation device 1 estimates the energy change quantity of the vehicle 80 for each of the links (step S20) and calculates, based on the estimated energy change quantity, the axle torque of the vehicle 80 for regeneration links among the links of which the energy change quantity has been estimated (step S40). Based on the axle torque thus calculated, the allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake of the vehicle 80 for the regeneration links is calculated (step S60). Then, based on the calculated energy change quantity and the calculated allocation ratio, the power regeneration quantity of the vehicle 80 is estimated (step S70). Through these means, for vehicles that utilize regeneration energy, the power regeneration quantity as the energy related to traveling of the vehicles can be estimated with accuracy.
    2. (2) The navigation device 1 estimates the traveling speed of the vehicle 80 for the regeneration links through processing by the control unit 10 (step S50). In step S60, the allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake of the vehicle 80 for the regeneration links is calculated based on the axle torque calculated in step S40 and the traveling speed estimated in step S50. Through these measures, an optimal allocation ratio according to the characteristics of the vehicle 80 can be calculated.


    [0048] It is to be noted that in the first embodiment explained above, an example in which the present invention is applied to a navigation device has been explained. However, the present invention may be adopted in devices other than the navigation device. For instance, the present invention may be adopted in an on-vehicle device that has no navigation function, personal computers, smartphones and so on. Devices with various configurations may be utilized as the energy estimation device according to the present invention as far as they can estimate the energy related to traveling of a vehicle by executing electric energy estimation processing as illustrated in FIG. 3.

    (Second Embodiment)



    [0049] A second embodiment of the present invention is explained below. In the second embodiment, explanation is made on an example in which the estimation of the level of the energy related to a vehicle according to the present invention is applied to an information system that includes a plurality of vehicles and a server device.

    [0050] FIG. 4 presents a diagram illustrating the configuration of an information system for automotive according to the second embodiment of the present invention. The information system for automotive is configured by connecting vehicles 100, 200 and 300 with a server device 500 via a mobile communication network 400. The vehicles 100,200 and 300, like the vehicle 80 described in the first embodiment, are all electric vehicles (EV) driven by utilizing electric energy stored in batteries.

    [0051] Each of the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 transmits, via the mobile communication network 400, acceleration/deceleration information pertaining to changes occurring in the acceleration rate or the deceleration detected as the particular vehicle travels, to the server 500. It is to be noted that in the following description, the term "acceleration/deceleration" is used to refer to acceleration and deceleration together. In addition, it is possible for any particular vehicle out of the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 to issue a request to the server device 500, asking for current travel limit area information corresponding to a remaining power available in the particular vehicle, by transmitting vehicle information indicating the remaining power and the like related to the particular vehicle to the server device 500. While FIG. 4 shows the vehicle 100 that transmits vehicle information to the server device 500 and then receive current travel limit area information transmitted from the server device 500 in response thereto, similar information exchange also occurs between the server device 500 and the other vehicles 200 and 300.

    [0052] The server device 500 includes an arithmetic processing unit 501 and a storage unit 502. The arithmetic processing unit 501 receives the acceleration/deceleration information individually transmitted via the mobile communication network 400 from the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 and executes arithmetic processing based upon the contents of the acceleration/deceleration information. In addition, it executes arithmetic processing based upon the vehicle information transmitted from a specific vehicle (the vehicle 100 in the example presented in FIG. 4), so as to estimate a current travel limit area for the particular vehicle and transmits current travel limit information corresponding to the arithmetic processing results to the vehicle via the mobile communication network 400. Such arithmetic processing executed by the arithmetic processing unit 501 will be described in specific detail later.

    [0053] In the storage unit 502, various types of data needed in the arithmetic processing executed by the arithmetic processing unit 501, data pertaining to the arithmetic processing results provided by the arithmetic processing unit 501 and the like are held in storage. Under the control executed by the arithmetic processing unit 501, these data are read out from the storage unit 502 or written into the storage unit 502 as needed.

    [0054] It is to be noted that while the information system for automotive in FIG. 4 adopts a configuration in which the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 are connected to the server device 500 via the mobile communication network 400, the number of vehicles included in the information system for automotive according to the present invention is not limited to this example. Rather, it is desirable to configure the information system for automotive according to the present invention by connecting a greater number of vehicles than that shown in FIG. 4 to the server device 500 in actual application.

    [0055] FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the structure of an on-vehicle system included in the information system for automotive shown in FIG. 4. FIG. 5 shows that the navigation device 1, the vehicle control device 2, the battery 3, the power conversion device 4, and the electric motor 5 shown in FIG. 4 according to the first embodiment and in addition thereto a communication terminal 6 are installed in the vehicle 100.

    [0056] In the present embodiment, the navigation device 1 has the function as that described pertaining to the first embodiment. It also has an additional function that allows it to act as an on-vehicle device in the information system for vehicles shown in FIG. 4. In other words, the navigation device 1 is able to transmit the acceleration/deceleration information obtained by detecting changes in the acceleration/deceleration occurring in the vehicle 100 to the server device 500 and issue a request to the server device 500 for the current travel limit area information by transmitting vehicle information pertaining to the vehicle 100. The processing executed by the navigation device 1 will be explained later in specific detail.

    [0057] It is to be noted that the navigation device 1 obtains, as necessary, remaining battery power information indicating the currently available power, i.e., the quantity of electric energy currently stored in the battery 3 in the vehicle 100, which is to be included in the vehicle information to be transmitted to the server device 500, from the vehicle control device 2. The remaining power may be indicated by the SOC (state of charge) which takes a value between 0%, representing the fully discharged state, through 100%, representing the fully charged state.

    [0058] Under the control executed by the navigation device 1, the communication terminal 6 is engaged in wireless communication with the mobile communication network 400 shown in FIG. 4. The server device 500 is connected to the mobile communication network 400, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Namely, the navigation device 1, connected with the server device 500 via the communication terminal 6 and the mobile communication network 400, is able to transmit the acceleration/deceleration information and the vehicle information to the server device 500 and receive the current travel limit area information from the server device 500.

    [0059] It is to be noted that while FIG. 5 shows the structure of the on-vehicle system installed in the vehicle 100 as an example, on-vehicle systems adopting structures similar to that shown in FIG. 5 are also installed in the vehicles 200 and 300. In other words, each vehicle is equipped with an on-vehicle system such as one that is shown in FIG. 5. The acceleration/deceleration information and the vehicle information are transmitted from the navigation device 1 in each vehicle to the server device 500 and the current travel limit area information transmitted from the server device 500 is received at the navigation device 1 installed in each vehicle.

    [0060] FIG. 6 is a diagram showing the structure of the navigation device 1 according to the second embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 6, the navigation device 1 according to the second embodiment has the same configuration as that of the navigation device 1 according to the first embodiment shown in FIG. 2, except that the vehicle control device 2 and the communication terminal 6 are connected to the control unit 10. It is to be noted that while the following description focuses on the navigation device 1 installed in the vehicle 100 chosen as a typical example, the navigation devices 1 installed in the other vehicles assume similar structures.

    [0061] In the present embodiment, the control unit 10 executes various types of processing as described pertaining to the first embodiment and in addition it further executes processing in order to fulfill its function as the on-vehicle device included in the information system for vehicles in FIG. 4. In more specific terms, it detects changes in the acceleration/deceleration of the vehicle 100 and transmits acceleration/deceleration information generated based upon the detection results to the server device 500 or transmits the vehicle information to the server device 500 when requesting the current travel limit area information.

    [0062] It is to be noted that in the present embodiment, the vehicle control device 2 and the communication terminal 6 are connected to the control unit 10. The control unit 10 exchanges information with these devices whenever necessary. For instance, when it needs to transmit the acceleration/deceleration information and the vehicle information to the server device 500, it outputs both the information to the communication terminal 6. In addition, it takes in the remaining battery power information input thereto from the vehicle control device 2 when it needs to determine the available power remaining in the battery 3.

    [0063] Next, the processing executed in the information system for vehicles shown in FIG. 4 is described in detail. The control unit 10 in the navigation device 1 in the information system for vehicles shown in FIG. 4 executes acceleration/deceleration information transmission processing so as to detect changes in the acceleration/deceleration occurring in the vehicle 100 to transmit acceleration/deceleration information to the server device 500. In addition, the arithmetic processing unit 501 in the server device 500 executes loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing for calculating loss/regeneration parameters to be used in the estimation of current travel limit area and current travel limit area estimation processing for estimating a current travel limit area.

    [0064] The acceleration/deceleration information transmission processing will be described first. FIG. 7 presents a flowchart of the acceleration/deceleration information transmission processing. As long as the vehicle 100 remains in a traveling state, the control unit 10 in the navigation device 1 repeatedly executes the acceleration/deceleration information transmission processing, as indicated in the flowchart in FIG. 7, over predetermined processing cycles.

    [0065] In step S100, the control unit 10 calculates an average traveling speed of the vehicle 100 during a predetermined period of time. In this embodiment, the average traveling speed of the vehicle 100 through the predetermined time period is calculated by tabulating the traveling speed of the vehicle 100 detected over predetermined intervals of, for instance, 20 ms, through a predetermined number of cycles, e.g., 25 cycles, based upon the vehicle speed signal output from the vehicle speed sensor 13, and then calculating the average value over the 25 cycles. As a result, the average traveling speed of the vehicle 100 through, for instance, a period of 500 ms is calculated.

    [0066] In step S110, the control unit 10 calculates the difference between the current average traveling speed and the previous average traveling speed. In the embodiment, the average traveling speed calculated through the most recently executed step S100 processing is designated as the current average traveling speed, the average traveling speed having been calculated through the step S100 immediately processing preceding the most recent step S100 processing, is designated as the previous average traveling speed and the difference between these average traveling speeds is calculated. As a result, the difference between the average traveling speed through the current 500 ms period and the average traveling speed through the preceding 500 ms period is calculated.

    [0067] In step S120, the control unit 10 makes a decision, based upon the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated in step S20, as to whether the vehicle 100 has shifted from an accelerating state to a decelerating state or from a decelerating state to an accelerating state. This decision may be made by comparing the positive/negative sign appended to the difference between the average traveling speeds having been calculated in a preceding session with the positive/negative sign appended to the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated through the current session. For instance, the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated through the preceding session may take a positive value indicating acceleration and the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated through the current session may take a negative value indicating deceleration. In such a case, the control unit 10 is able to determine that the vehicle 100 has shifted from an accelerating state to a decelerating state. If, on the other hand, the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated through the preceding session takes a negative value indicating deceleration and the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated through the current session takes a positive value indicating acceleration, the control unit 10 is able to determine that the vehicle 100 has shifted from a decelerating state to an accelerating state. If the vehicle 100 is determined to have shifted from an accelerating state to a decelerating state or from a decelerating state to an accelerating state based upon satisfaction of these conditions, the shift is detected as an acceleration/deceleration change and the operation proceeds to step S160. However, if the above conditions are not satisfied, the operation proceeds to step S130.

    [0068] FIG. 8 illustrates how acceleration/deceleration changes may be detected through the processing described above. In the graph resented in FIG. 8, the vehicle speed V of the vehicle 100 is indicated along the vertical axis and the traveling distance L covered by the vehicle 100 is indicated along the horizontal axis. When the vehicle speed V indicated in the graph is detected for the traveling distance L, acceleration/deceleration changes are each detected through step S120, in correspondence to a specific vehicle speed among vehicle speeds Vpeak_1, Vpeak_2, Vpeak_3, and Vpeak_4. detected at various points each representing a peak or a trough in the graph.

    [0069] It is desirable that the decision-making in step S120 be executed by ensuring that even when the above conditions as described above are satisfied, the vehicle 100 is not judged to have shifted from an accelerating state to a decelerating state or from a decelerating state to an accelerating state unless the difference between the previous average traveling speed and the current average traveling speed exceeds a predetermined fluctuation range, e.g., unless it exceeds 1 %. Namely, if the difference between the average traveling speeds calculated in step S110 is within the predetermined fluctuation range, the operation should proceed to step S130 without executing the decision-making in step S120, i.e., so as to ensure that no acceleration/deceleration change is detected. However, it is further desirable that after the vehicle 100 has sustained a given traveling state over a significant length of time following the last detection of an acceleration/deceleration change, an acceleration/deceleration change be detected upon detecting that the conditions as described earlier are satisfied, even if the difference between the average traveling speeds is within the predetermined fluctuation range. Changeover of the processing relating to the detection of changes in acceleration/deceleration may be made based upon, for instance, the length of time having elapsed since the most recent detection of an acceleration/deceleration change.

    [0070] In step S130, the control unit 10 calculates a hypothetical cumulative traveling distance that would have been covered by the vehicle 100, after the acceleration/deceleration information was most recently recorded in step S170, which will be described in detail later. In this step, the cumulative traveling distance ranging from the position of the vehicle 100 assumed when the acceleration/deceleration information was last recorded, which is designated as an origin point, to the current position is calculated by assuming that the vehicle 100 has continuously traveled at a constant estimated acceleration/deceleration rate. The cumulative traveling distance thus calculated is then designated as the hypothetical cumulative traveling distance. The estimated acceleration/deceleration rate at which the vehicle 100 is assumed to have traveled since passing through the origin point can be determined based upon the traveling speed at which the vehicle 100 passed through the origin point, i.e., the traveling speed of the vehicle 100 when the acceleration/deceleration information was last recorded. For instance, the estimated acceleration/deceleration rate of the vehicle 100, after having passed through the origin point, can be determined based upon the difference between the traveling speed at which the vehicle 100 passed through the origin point and the traveling speed of the vehicle 100 detected immediately afterwards. It is to be noted that the acceleration/deceleration information is recorded in step S170 upon detecting a change in the acceleration/deceleration rate in step S120 or upon deciding in step S150, which is to be described later, that the difference between the hypothetical cumulative traveling distance and the actual cumulative traveling distance is equal to or greater than a reference value.

    [0071] In step S140, the control unit 10 calculates the actual cumulative traveling distance covered by the vehicle 100, ranging from the origin point to the current position. In this step, the actual cumulative traveling distance is calculated by adding up the traveling distances covered by the vehicle 100 in correspondence to the individual cycles based upon the traveling speeds detected through the predetermined cycles based upon the vehicle speed signals output from the vehicle speed sensor 13 after the vehicle passed through the origin point.

    [0072] In step S150, the control unit 10 makes a decision as to whether or not the difference between the hypothetical cumulative traveling distance calculated in step S130 and the actual cumulative traveling distance calculated in step S140 is equal to or greater than a preselected specific reference value. If the difference between the hypothetical cumulative traveling distance and the actual cumulative traveling distance is determined to be equal to or greater than the predetermined reference value of, for instance, 1.5 m, the position of the vehicle 100 just as the positive decision is made is detected as an equivalent point, which is to be regarded as equivalent to an acceleration/deceleration change, before the operation proceeds to step S160. If, on the other hand, the difference between the hypothetical cumulative traveling distance and the actual cumulative traveling distance is less than the reference value, the operation proceeds to step S180.

    [0073] In step S160, the control unit 10 detects the current time point and the current position of the vehicle 100. In this step, the current time point and the current position can be detected based upon the GPS signals received via the GPS reception unit 11.

    [0074] In step S170, the control unit 10 records acceleration/deceleration information indicating the average traveling speed calculated in step S100 and the current time point and the current position detected in step S160 into the HDD 14. Through the processing executed in step S120, the time point at which an acceleration/deceleration change is detected in step S120 or the time point at which an equivalent point regarded as equivalent to an acceleration/deceleration change is detected in step S150 and the corresponding position of the vehicle 100 and the corresponding vehicle speed at the particular time point are recorded as the acceleration/deceleration information into the HDD 14.

    [0075] In step S180, the control unit 10 makes a decision as to whether or not yet-to-be transmitted acceleration/deceleration information among sets of acceleration/deceleration information having been recorded thus far is to be transmitted from the navigation device 1 to the server device 500. This decision may be made by determining whether or not a predetermined transmission condition exists. For instance, it may be decided that acceleration/deceleration information should be transmitted if a predetermined length of time or more has elapsed since the most recent transmission or if the number of sets of acceleration/deceleration information having been recorded has become equal to or greater than a predetermined value, and upon determining that acceleration/deceleration information is to be transmitted, the operation proceeds to step S190. If, on the other hand, such a transmission condition does not exist, it is decided that acceleration/deceleration information is not to be transmitted, and in this case, the operation returns to step S100 to repeatedly execute the processing described earlier.

    [0076] In step S190, the control unit 10 transmits the yet-to-be transmitted acceleration/deceleration information recorded in the HDD 14 in a batch to the server device 500. In this step, a plurality of sets of yet-to-be transmitted acceleration/deceleration information, each representing a specific combination of time point, position and speed, are read out from the HDD 14 where the sets of yet-to-be transmitted acceleration/deceleration information are recorded and the plurality of sets of yet-to-be transmitted acceleration/deceleration information are output in a batch to the communication terminal 6, so as to allow the plurality of sets of acceleration/deceleration information to be transmitted to the server device 500 via the communication terminal 6 and the mobile communication network 400. In addition, information indicating features characterizing the vehicle 100, e.g., vehicle type information is transmitted together with the acceleration/deceleration information at this time. It is to be noted that following the execution of the processing in step S190, the transmitted acceleration/deceleration information may be deleted from the HDD 14.

    [0077] Upon executing the processing in step S190, the control unit 10 returns to step S100 to repeatedly execute the processing as indicated in the flowchart presented in FIG. 7.

    [0078] Next, the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing will be described. FIG. 9 presents a flowchart of the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing. In response to the acceleration/deceleration information transmitted from the navigation device 1 installed in the vehicle 100, 200 or 300, the arithmetic processing unit 501 in the server device 500 executes the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing as shown in the flowchart presented in FIG. 9. It is to be noted that the following description will be provided by assuming that the acceleration/deceleration information has been transmitted from the navigation device 1 installed in the vehicle 100.

    [0079] In step S210, the arithmetic processing unit 501 receives the acceleration/deceleration information transmitted from the navigation device 1. This acceleration/deceleration information is transmitted as a batch of a plurality of sets of acceleration/deceleration information to the server device 500 from the navigation device 1 as the processing in step S190 in FIG. 7 is executed. In addition, the arithmetic processing unit 501 also receives information indicating the characteristic features of the vehicle 100, e.g., vehicle type information or the like, transmitted together with the acceleration/deceleration information from the navigation device 1 in this step.

    [0080] In step S220, the arithmetic processing unit 501 determines the correspondence between each set of acceleration/deceleration information received in step S210 and a specific link. In this step, the position at which each set of acceleration/deceleration information was obtained, i.e., the position assumed by the vehicle 100 when the acceleration/deceleration change was detected, is determined based upon the position information included in the particular set of acceleration/deceleration information and the link corresponding to the position is identified. In addition, a specific position on the link is determined by correcting, as necessary, the position, at which the set of acceleration/deceleration information was obtained, in relation to the link thus identified. It is to be noted that link information used when identifying the link and determining the specific position on the link, as described above, can be obtained from the map data stored in, for instance, the storage unit 502.

    [0081] As the arithmetic processing unit 501 executes the processing in step S220 as described above, it is able to determine the correspondence between each set of acceleration/deceleration information having been received and a specific link and then determine specific positions taken on the particular link, which correspond to all sets of acceleration/deceleration information having been received.

    [0082] In step S230, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates the speed at an end point of each link the correspondence of which to specific sets of acceleration/deceleration information has been determined in step S220. In the embodiment, the speed at each link end point is calculated based upon the speed information included in the sets of acceleration/deceleration information having been obtained at two positions, each successive to the particular link end point on either side of the link end point among the specific positions on the various links having been determined in step S220 in correspondence to the individual sets of acceleration/deceleration information having been received taken on a given link.

    [0083] For instance, the speed Vt at the link end point can be calculated as expressed in (1) below, with V0 and V1 representing the speeds indicated in the speed information included in the sets of acceleration/deceleration information obtained at the two positions successive to the link end point on the two sides thereof. It is to be noted that L0 and L1 in expression (1) respectively represent the distances from the link end point to the two specific positions successive to the link end point on the two sides.



    [0084] It is to be noted that the specific position determined in correspondence to a set of acceleration/deceleration information is present only on one side of one of the two end points at each of the two links located at the two outer ends of the link string among the series of links, the correspondence of which to the individual sets of acceleration/deceleration information is determined in step S220. This means that the speed cannot be calculated for such an end point through the method described above. For this reason, it is desirable to exempt such links from the subsequent processing.

    [0085] In step S240, the arithmetic processing unit 501 selects one of the links, the correspondence of which to the acceleration/deceleration information has been determined in step S220. Namely, it selects a link among the links corresponding to the positions taken by the vehicle 100 when the various sets of acceleration/deceleration information were obtained.

    [0086] In step S250, the arithmetic processing unit 501 identifies a loss segment and a regeneration segment in the link selected in step S240. In this step, each specific position on the link determined in correspondence to the acceleration/deceleration information is ascertained based upon the correspondence determined in relation to the particular link in step S220 and the link is split into a plurality of segments by using such positions as dividing points. In addition, based upon the acceleration/deceleration information, the correspondence of which to the particular link has been determined in step S220, and the speeds at the two end points of the link calculated in step S230, an energy change quantity at the vehicle 100 over each of the segments resulting from the split is calculated. Based upon the results of the energy change quantity calculation, each segment is categorized as a loss segment or a regeneration segment and thus is identified as either a loss segment or a regeneration segment.

    [0087] The following is a description of a method that may be adopted in step S250 when determining whether a given segment is a loss segment or a regeneration segment. FIG. 10 is a diagram illustrating how to determine a loss segment or a regeneration segment. In the example presented in FIG. 10, the speed information included in the sets of acceleration/deceleration information corresponding to various positions taken between the two end points of the calculation target link indicates vehicle speeds Vpeak_1, Vpeak_2, Vpeak_3 and Vpeak_4 respectively and vehicle speeds Vpeak_0 and Vpeak_5 are calculated as the speeds at the two end points of the calculation target link. It is to be noted that each link is assigned with its own link ID and that link ID=n is set for this particular link.

    [0088] While traveling through the link shown in FIG. 10, the vehicle 100 accelerates in the first segment, by increasing its speed from Vpeak_0 to Vpeak_1, decelerates in the next segment as its speed shifts from Vpeak_1 to Vpeak_2 and then accelerates again in the following segment as its speed shifts from Vpeak_2 to Vpeak_3. It then decelerates in the next segment as its speed shifts from Vpeak_3 to Vpeak_4, and the vehicle 100 picks up speed in the last segment, increasing its speed from Vpeak_4 to Vpeak_5.

    [0089] In step S250, horizontal distances L2D_1) through L2D_5, traveling distances L3D_1 through L3D_5, altitude differences HU_1 through HU_5 along the ascending direction and altitude differences HD_1 through HD_5 along the descending direction are determined in correspondence to the individual segments. These values may be calculated based upon the map data stored in the storage unit 502. For instance, assuming that the horizontal distance over which the particular link ranges, as indicated in the map data, is L2D, the horizontal distances L2D_1 through L2D_5 of the individual segments can be determined by dividing this horizontal distance L2D into portions, each corresponding to the ratio of the length of a specific segment to the horizontal distance L2D. In addition, the altitude differences HU_1 through HU_5 along the ascending direction corresponding to the individual segments and the altitude differences HD_1 through HD_5 along the descending direction corresponding to the individual segments can be determined based upon altitude information indicating the altitudes at various points set in advance within the link in the map data. Based upon the horizontal distances L2D_1 through L2D_5, the altitude differences HU_1 through HU_5 along ascending direction and the altitude differences HD_1 through HD_5 along the descending direction, respectively, corresponding to the individual segments, having been determined as described above, the traveling distances L3D_1 through L3D_5 are determined, each in correspondence to one of the segments. It is to be noted that the altitude differences HD_1 through HD_5 along the descending direction take negative values.

    [0090] Next, an energy change quantity is determined in correspondence to each segment by using the various values obtained as described above. For instance, the energy change quantity in the first segment can be calculated as expressed in (6) by using the vehicle speed Vpeak_0, at the start point of the segment, the vehicle speed Vpeak_1 at the end point of the segment, the horizontal distance L2D_1 and the traveling distance L3D_1 corresponding to the segment, the ascending altitude difference HU_1 and the descending altitude difference HD_1 corresponding to the segment.



    [0091] Similarly to the expression in (1) described earlier, λ1, λ2, λ3 and λ4 in expression (6) above respectively represent an acceleration resistance coefficient, a gradient resistance coefficient, a road surface resistance coefficient and an air resistance coefficient. These coefficients are constants, determined in correspondence to the characteristics of the vehicle 100 such as its weight and shape and physical constants including the gravitational acceleration constant, and each coefficient takes a value determined based upon the vehicle type information or the like received together with the acceleration/deceleration information in step S210. In addition, Vave in expression (5) represents an average vehicle speed in the particular link, taking a value determined based upon a specific value set in advance in correspondence to the link or the like.

    [0092] It is to be noted that energy change quantities in other segments can also be calculated as expressed in (6), based upon the vehicle speed at the start point, the vehicle speed at the end point, the horizontal distance, the traveling distance, the altitude difference along the ascending direction and the altitude difference along the descending direction.

    [0093] Once the energy change quantities are calculated in correspondence to the individual segments as described above, a decision is then made as to whether each segment is a loss segment or a regeneration segment by checking whether the corresponding energy change quantity is represented by a positive value or a negative value. Namely, if a given energy change quantity is calculated as a positive value, it indicates that energy loss occurred while the vehicle 100 was traveling through the particular segment. Accordingly, the segment can be judged to be a loss segment. If, on the other hand, the energy change quantity takes a negative value, it indicates that energy was regenerated as the vehicle 100 traveled through the corresponding segment. Accordingly, the segment can be judged to be a regeneration segment. By making this decision for the individual segments, all the segments can each be determined to be either a loss segment or a regeneration segment.

    [0094] In step S250, a decision is made through the method described above as to whether each of the segments formed by dividing the link selected in step S240 is a loss segment or a regeneration segment. For instance, the first segment, the fourth segment and the last segment among the various segments shown in FIG. 10 are each judged to be a loss segment, whereas the second segment and the third segment are determined to be regeneration segments.

    [0095] In step S260, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates the axle torque of the vehicle 100 for each of the segments that has been determined to be regeneration segment in step S250 among the segments in the specific link. In this step, the axle torque for each regeneration segment is calculated based upon the energy change quantity of the regeneration segment calculated in step S250.

    [0096] For instance, when the second segment and the third segment are determined to be regeneration segments as described above, the axle torque T2 in correspondence to the second regeneration segment can be calculated according to the following expression (7) by using the energy change quantity E2 calculated for the regeneration segment and the travel distance L3D_2 in correspondence to the regeneration segment.



    [0097] In the expression (7) above, Lr represents, similarly to the expression (2) described above, a tire radius of the axle that provides, upon regeneration, driving force for power generation to the electric motor 5 in the vehicle 100, that is, tire radius of the driving shaft that is driven by the electric motor 5 upon driving the vehicle 100. The value of the tire radius Lr can be determined based upon the vehicle type information and the like that is received together with the acceleration/deceleration information in step S210.

    [0098] It is to be noted that axle torque value for each of the other regeneration segments can be calculated by performing calculations similar to that according to the expression (7) by using the energy change quantity calculated in correspondence to the specific segment and the travel distance over the specific segment.

    [0099] In step S270, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates the travel speed of the vehicle 100 for each of the regeneration segments, for each of which the axle torque has been calculated in step S260, based upon the acceleration/deceleration information received in step S210. In this step, the travel speed of the vehicle 100 in correspondence to each of the regeneration segments can be calculated by averaging the vehicle speeds at the start point and the end point of each regeneration segment used upon the calculation of the energy change quantity in step S250 based upon the speed information contained in the acceleration/deceleration information,

    [0100] For instance, the traveling speed V2 correspondence to the second regeneration segment can be calculated according to the following expression (8) by using vehicle speed Vpeak_1 at the start point of the specific segment, namely at the end point of the first segment and vehicle speed Vpeak_2 at the end point of the specific segment.



    [0101] It is to be noted that also the traveling speed for each of the other regeneration segments can be calculated by averaging the vehicle speeds at the start point and the end point of the specific segment according to calculation similar to that indicated by the expression (8).

    [0102] In step S280, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates an allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake of the vehicle 100 for each of the regeneration segments. In this step, an optimal allocation ratio in correspondence to the characteristics of the vehicle 100 is calculated based upon the axle torque calculated in step S260 and the traveling speed calculated in step S270.

    [0103] For instance, the storage unit 502 stores in advance relationships between the axle torques and the travel speeds and the allocation ratios in correspondence to various vehicle types in the form of a table or a function. When the arithmetic processing unit 501 receives the acceleration/deceleration information in step S210, it specifies table information or function out of the above-described table information or function stored in the storage unit 502 based upon the vehicle type information and the like received together with the acceleration/deceleration information. By using the specified table information or function, the allocation ratios of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake in correspondence to the calculated axle torque and traveling speed can be determined in step S280. It is to be noted that in this step, it may be configured not to use traveling speed but use only axle torque in the same manner as that described pertaining to the first embodiment.

    [0104] By executing the processing as described above, for instance, in correspondence to the second regeneration segment, the allocation ratio α2 of the regeneration brake to the friction brake can be calculated from the axle torque T2 calculated according to the expression (7) described above and the traveling speed V2 calculated according to the expression (8) in correspondence to these characteristics. The allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake can be calculated based upon the axle torque and the traveling speed for each of the other regeneration segments by a similar method. As a result, when the second segment and the third segment are judged to be regeneration segments, respectively, as described above, allocation ratios α2 and α3 shown in FIG. 10 are each calculated.

    [0105] In step S290, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates loss parameters used to indicate the overall traveling conditions in the individual loss segments identified in step S250 and regeneration parameters used to indicate the overall traveling conditions in the individual regeneration segments identified in step S250. In this step, the loss parameters and the regeneration parameters are calculated based upon the results of the decision made in step S250 as to whether each segment is a loss segment or a regeneration segment, through the method that will be described next in reference to the example presented in FIG. 10.

    [0106] A loss acceleration rate vl_n (1), a loss segment horizontal distance L2Dl_n (1), a loss segment traveling distance L3Dl_n (1), a loss segment UP altitude difference HUl_n (1) and a loss segment DOWN altitude difference HDl_n (1), to be used as the loss parameters for the link shown in FIG. 10, and a regeneration acceleration rate vr_n (1), a regeneration segment horizontal distance L2Dr_n (1), a regeneration segment traveling distance L3Dr_n (1), a regeneration segment UP altitude difference HUr_n (1) and a regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference HDr_n (1), to be used as regeneration parameters for the link shown in FIG. 10, can be calculated as respectively expressed in (9) through (19) below. It is to be noted that the loss segment DOWN altitude difference HDl_n (1) and the regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference HDr_n (1) are each calculated as a negative value.























    [0107] In step S290, the values taken for the loss parameters and the regeneration parameters are calculated as has been described above.

    [0108] In step S300, the arithmetic processing unit 501 records the loss parameters and the regeneration parameters calculated in step S290 into the storage unit 502.

    [0109] FIG. 11 presents a diagram illustrating examples of loss/regeneration parameters that may be recorded into the storage unit 502. The figure lists the various values calculated for the loss/regeneration parameters as described earlier in correspondence to the link in FIG. 10 assigned with the link ID "n". The values calculated for the loss/regeneration parameters as described earlier are recorded in the storage unit 502 in correspondence to each link.

    [0110] In step S310, the arithmetic processing unit 501 makes a decision as to whether or not to update statistical parameters, which will be described in detail later. This decision may be made by determining whether or not a specific update condition exists. For instance, if a predetermined length of time or more has elapsed since the most recent update or if a predetermined number of sets of loss/regeneration parameters or more has been newly recorded into the storage unit 502, the arithmetic processing unit 501 decides that the statistical parameters are to be updated and the operation proceeds to step S320. If, on the other hand, no such update condition exists, the arithmetic processing unit 501 decides that the statistical parameters are not to be updated and the operation proceeds to step S340.

    [0111] In step S320, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates the statistical parameters to be used to estimate a power consumption quantity or a power regeneration quantity in correspondence to the particular link. In this step, statistical loss parameters and statistical regeneration parameters, to be used as the statistical parameters, are calculated by statistically processing the individual loss parameters and regeneration parameters recorded in the storage unit 502.

    [0112] The following is a description of a method that may be adopted when calculating the statistical parameters in step S320. FIG. 12 illustrates how the statistical parameters are calculated. FIG. 12 shows the loss parameters for the link assigned with the link ID n, i.e., values vl_n (1) through vl_n (4) calculated for the loss acceleration rate, values L2Dl_n (1) through L2Dl_n (4) calculated for the loss segment horizontal distance, values L3Dl_n (1) through L3Dl_n (4) calculated for the loss segment traveling distance, values HUl_n (1) through HUl_n (4) calculated for the loss segment UP altitude difference and values HDl_n (1) through HDl_n (4) calculated for the loss segment DOWN altitude difference, and the regeneration parameters for the link assigned with the link ID n, i.e., values vr_n (1) through vr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration acceleration rate, values L2Dr_n (1) through L2Dr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration segment horizontal distance, values L3Dr_n (1) through L3Dr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration segment traveling distance, values HUr_n (1) through HUr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration segment UP altitude difference, values HDr_n (1) through HDr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference, and values αr_n (1) through αr_n (4) calculated for the regeneration allocation rates, which are all recorded in the storage unit 502.

    [0113] The statistical parameters for the link assigned with the link ID "n" can each be calculated by determining a statistical average of the values taken for a specific parameter. Namely, a statistical loss acceleration rate vl_n, a statistical loss segment horizontal distance L2Dl_n, a statistical loss segment traveling distance L3Dl_n, a statistical loss segment UP altitude difference HUl_n and a statistical loss segment DOWN altitude difference HDl_n, to be used as statistical loss parameters, and a statistical regeneration acceleration rate vr_n, a statistical regeneration segment horizontal distance L2Dr_n, a statistical regeneration segment traveling distance L3Dr_n, a statistical regeneration segment UP altitude difference HUr_n, a statistical regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference HDr_n, and a statistical regeneration allocation ratio αr_n to be used as statistical regeneration parameters, can be calculated respectively as expressed in (20) through (30) below. It is to be noted that the statistical loss segment DOWN altitude difference HDl_n and the statistical regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference HDr_n each take a negative value.























    [0114] In step S320, the values taken for the statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters are calculated as has been described above. It is to be noted that the values taken for the loss/regeneration parameters, recorded in the storage unit 502, may be sorted in correspondence to predetermined conditions and the statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters may be calculated through the calculation method described above by using the values sorted into a specific group. For instance, the loss/regeneration parameter values may be sorted into groups of values each corresponding to a specific type of vehicle from which the acceleration/deceleration information used for the loss/regeneration parameter calculation was obtained, a specific time frame over which the acceleration/deceleration information used for the loss/regeneration parameter calculation was obtained, or a specific day of the week on which the acceleration/deceleration information used for the loss/regeneration parameter calculation was obtained, and the statistical loss parameter values and the statistical regeneration parameter values may be calculated by using the values in each group.

    [0115] In step S330, the arithmetic processing unit 501 records the statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters calculated in step S320, into the storage unit 502. It is to be noted that if the storage unit 502 holds values previously calculated and recorded as the statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters, those values are updated with the values more recently calculated through step S320.

    [0116] In step S340, the arithmetic processing unit 501 makes a decision as to whether or not all the links, the correspondence of which to specific sets of acceleration/deceleration information has been determined in step S220, have been selected in step S240. If it is decided that there is any link yet to be selected among these selection target links, the operation returns to step S240 to select such a link and then the processing described above is executed for the particular link. If, on the other hand, all the selection target links have been selected, the processing in the flowchart presented in FIG. 9 ends.

    [0117] Next, the current travel limit area estimation processing will be explained. FIG. 13 presents a flowchart of the current travel limit area estimation processing. The current travel limit area estimation processing is executed as shown in the flowchart presented in FIG. 13 by the arithmetic processing unit 501 in the server device 500 in response to a current travel limit area information request issued in the form of the vehicle information transmitted from the navigation device 1 installed in the vehicle 100, 200 or 300, It is to be noted that the following description will be given by assuming that the vehicle information has been transmitted from the navigation device 1 installed in the vehicle 100.

    [0118] In step S410, the arithmetic processing unit 501 receives the vehicle information transmitted from the navigation device 1. This vehicle information includes the information indicating the remaining power available to the vehicle 100, the position information indicating the position of the vehicle 100 and the information indicating the characteristic feature of the vehicle 100 pertaining to its fuel consumption, such as the vehicle type information. In response to an instruction for issuing a current travel limit area information request, provided through, for instance, a user operation, the navigation device 1 executes processing for obtaining the various types of information and transmitting them as the vehicle information. As a result, the vehicle information pertaining to the vehicle 100 is transmitted from the navigation device 1 to the server device 500 via the communication terminal 6 and the mobile communication network 400.

    [0119] In step S420, the arithmetic processing unit 501 determines the current position of the estimation target vehicle based upon the vehicle information received in step S410. In this step, the vehicle 100 equipped with the navigation device 1 having transmitted the vehicle information is designated as the estimation target vehicle and the position of the vehicle 100 is determined based upon the position information included in the vehicle information.

    [0120] In step S430, the arithmetic processing unit 501 selects a link based upon the position of the estimation target vehicle determined in step S420, i.e., based upon the position of the vehicle 100. In this step, links present ahead relative to the position of the vehicle 100 designated as the estimation target vehicle are selected one at a time starting with the link closest to the vehicle position.

    [0121] In step S440, the arithmetic processing unit 501 reads out the statistical loss parameter values and the statistical regeneration parameter values calculated in correspondence to the link selected in step S430, from the storage unit 502. The statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters read out in this step have been recorded in step S330 in FIG. 9, executed as has been described earlier as part of a previous session of the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing.

    [0122] In step S450, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates an estimated power consumption quantity or an estimated power regeneration quantity corresponding to the particular link based upon the statistical loss parameter values and the statistical regeneration parameter values read out in step S440. For instance, an estimated power consumption quantity (or an estimated power regeneration quantity) En for the link assigned with the link ID "n" can be calculated as expressed in (31) below based upon the statistical loss parameters, i.e., the statistical loss acceleration rate vl_n, the statistical loss segment horizontal distance L2Dl_n, the statistical loss segment traveling distance L3Dl_n, the statistical loss segment UP altitude difference HUl_n and the statistical loss segment DOWN altitude difference HDl_n, and the statistical regeneration parameters, i.e., the statistical regeneration acceleration rate vr_n, statistical regeneration segment horizontal distance L2Dr_n, the statistical regeneration segment traveling distance L3Dr_n, the statistical regeneration segment UP altitude difference HUr_n, the statistical regeneration segment DOWN altitude difference HDr_n, and the statistical regeneration allocation ratio αr_n.



    [0123] κ1, κ2, κ3 and κ4 in expression (31) respectively represent an acceleration resistance coefficient, a gradient resistance coefficient, a road surface resistance coefficient and an air resistance coefficient. In addition, C represents a power conversion coefficient, whereas R represents a regeneration coefficient. These coefficients are constants, the values of which are determined based upon the characteristic features of the estimation target vehicle, such as its weight, its shape, its motor characteristics and the switching loss occurring therein, and physical constants including the gravitational acceleration constant. Specific values taken for these coefficients are determined based upon the vehicle type information and the like included in the vehicle information received in step S410. It is to be noted that since the vehicle 100 is designated as the estimation target vehicle in this example, the coefficients κ1, κ2, κ3 and κ4 take values that are respectively equal to those of the coefficients λ1, λ2, λ3 and λ4 in expressions (1) and (6) described earlier.

    [0124] In addition, Vn in expression (31) represents the traveling speed through the particular link. The value taken for this traveling speed Vn can be determined in much the same way as the average vehicle speed Vave in expression (6) mentioned earlier, based upon, for instance, a preselected value set in advance in correspondence to the particular link. As an alternative, a traveling speed for each link may be calculated in advance based upon the statistical loss parameters and the statistical regeneration parameters corresponding to the link and the traveling speed Vn may be set by using the pre-calculated traveling speed.

    [0125] It is to be noted that En calculated as expressed in (31) to take a negative value indicates an estimated power regeneration quantity instead of an estimated power consumption quantity. In other words, En taking a negative value indicates that as the vehicle 100 travels through the link, the estimated quantity En of regenerated power is obtained through regenerative power generation and that the remaining power in the battery 3 increases with the regenerated power used to charge the battery 3.

    [0126] In step S450, the estimated power consumption quantity or the estimated power regeneration quantity is calculated for the selected link, as has been described above. It is to be noted that the term "estimated power consumption quantity" may be used in the following description to refer to both the estimated power consumption quantity and the estimated power regeneration quantity.

    [0127] In step S460, the arithmetic processing unit 501 calculates an estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100, designated as the estimation target vehicle, reaches the selected link, based upon the estimated power consumption quantity calculated in step S450 and makes a decision as to whether or not the estimated total power consumption quantity is equal to or less than the remaining power available in the vehicle 100. In this step, the estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100 reaches the currently selected link, is calculated by adding up all the estimated power consumption quantities each having been calculated through a previous session of the processing in step S450 executed for one of the links present between the position of the vehicle 100 and the currently selected link. It is to be noted that links are selected one at a time in step S430 starting with the link closest to the position of the vehicle 100, as has been explained earlier. This means that by the time the estimated power consumption quantity is calculated in step S450 for a given link having been selected in step S430, estimated power consumption quantities will already have been calculated for all the links present between the position of the vehicle 100 and the particular link. Thus, the estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100 reaches the link can be calculated by adding up these estimated power consumption quantities, each corresponding to one of the in-between links.

    [0128] The arithmetic processing unit 501 executes the decision-making in step S460 by comparing the estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100 reaches the link, having been calculated as described above, with the remaining power indicated in the remaining power information included in the vehicle information received in step S410. If the estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100 reaches the link is equal to or less than the remaining power, the operation returns to step S430 to select a next link and execute the processing described earlier for the newly selected link. If, on the other hand, it is decided that the estimated total power consumption quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed by the time the vehicle 100 reaches the link is equal to or greater than the remaining power, the operation proceeds to step S470.

    [0129] In step S470, the arithmetic processing unit 501 sets a reachable range along the link selected in step S430. For instance, the range extending from the position of the vehicle 100 through the link boundary point between the currently selected link and the link adjacent to the currently selected link, which is located further toward the vehicle 100, may be set as the reachable range along the link.

    [0130] In step S480, the arithmetic processing unit 501 makes a decision as to whether or not reachable ranges have been set for all search directions running relative to the vehicle 100. Namely, a decision is made as to whether or not reachable ranges have been determined in step S470 in correspondence to all the directions in which links can be followed from the position of the vehicle 100 determined in step S420. If the decision-making results indicate that there is a search direction along which a reachable range has not yet been set, the operation returns to step S430, in which a link present along the particular search direction is selected so as to execute the processing discussed above for the selected link. If, on the other hand, reachable ranges have been set for all the search directions, the operation proceeds to step S490.

    [0131] In step S490, the arithmetic processing unit 501 determines through calculation the shape of a current travel limit area corresponding to the reachable ranges determined in step S470. In this step, the shape of the current travel limit area is determined through calculation by connecting the link boundary points present along the various directions in which the reachable ranges have been set. As a result, a specific current travel limit area for the vehicle 100 designated as the estimation target vehicle can be defined on the map.

    [0132] In step S500, the arithmetic processing unit 501 transmits current travel limit area information indicating the current travel limit area for the vehicle 100 to the navigation device 1. Namely, information pertaining to the shape of the current travel limit area determined through calculation in step S490 is transmitted as the current travel limit area information to the navigation device 1 via the mobile communication network 400. Such current travel limit area information may include position information indicating the positions of the various vertices of the current travel limit area. Once the processing in step S500 is executed, the processing shown in the flowchart presented in FIG. 13 ends.

    [0133] As the current travel limit area estimation processing is executed in the server device 500 as described above, the current travel limit area information is transmitted from the server device 500 to the navigation device 1 in response to a request issued from the navigation device 1. Upon receiving the current travel limit area information originating from the server device 500, the navigation device 1 displays the current travel limit area on the map on display at the display monitor 15 based upon the current travel limit area information.

    [0134] FIG. 14 illustrates how the current travel limit area may be displayed at the display monitor 15. In this example, a vehicle position mark 20 indicating the position of the vehicle 100 and a current travel limit area 21 are superimposed over the map screen on display. Viewing such a current travel limit area 21 displayed at the display monitor 15, the user is able to easily verify the range over which the vehicle 100 will be able to keep traveling with the currently available remaining power.

    [0135] The following operations and advantages are achieved through the second embodiment of the present invention described above.
    1. (1) The navigation device 1 installed in each of the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 detects an acceleration/deceleration change occurring in the vehicle (step S120) and transmits acceleration/deceleration information pertaining to detected acceleration/deceleration changes to the server device 500 (step S190) through processing executed by the control unit 10. The server device 500, in turn, through processing executed by the arithmetic processing unit 501, receives the acceleration/deceleration information transmitted from the navigation device 1 in each vehicle (step S210) and identifies a loss segment at which energy is lost while each of the vehicles is travelling and a regeneration segment at which energy is regenerated while each of the vehicles is travelling based upon the acceleration/deceleration information thus received (step 250). Then, the server device 500 calculates an axle torque of each of the vehicles for the regeneration segment (step S260) and calculates an allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake in each of the vehicles for the regeneration segment based upon the calculated axle torque (step S280). Thereafter, the server device 500 calculates, as statistical parameter values for estimating power consumption quantity or regeneration energy, statistical loss parameter values corresponding to the loss segments and statistical regeneration parameter values corresponding to the regeneration segments that contain statistical regeneration allocation ratio αr_n which is a statistical value of the allocation ratio described above (step S320). Based upon the statistical parameter values calculated as described above, for each of the links, the server device 500 calculates an estimated power consumption quantity or an estimated power regeneration quantity of the estimation target vehicle for a road to be traveled (step S450). Through these measures, in the same manner as that in the first embodiment described above, for vehicles that utilize regeneration energy, the power regeneration quantity as the energy related to traveling of the vehicle, can be accurately predicted.
    2. (2) The server device 500 calculates, through processing by the arithmetic processing unit 501, based upon the received acceleration/deceleration information, traveling speed of each of the vehicles for the regeneration links (step S270). In step S280, based upon the axle torque calculated in step S260 and the traveling speed calculated in step S270, the allocation ratio of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake of each of the vehicles for the regeneration links is calculated. Through these measures, optimal allocation ratios in correspondence to the characteristics of each of the vehicles can be calculated.
    3. (3) The server device 500 is configured such that as the statistical regeneration parameter values, statistical values of allocation ratios of the regeneration brake to the friction brake calculated based upon the axle torque of each of the vehicles are used instead of the statistical values of the axle torque of each of the vehicles. With these measures, for various target vehicles whose allocation ratios of the regeneration brake relative to the friction brake in correspondence to the axle torque are different from each other, the estimation of the power consumption quantity and the regenerative power quantity can be performed with high accuracy as compared with the case in which the statistical values of the axle torque are used.

    (Variation 1)



    [0136] It is to be noted that the server device 500 receives the acceleration/deceleration information transmitted from each of the vehicles 100, 200 and 300 and the server device 500 then executes the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing, as shown in FIG. 9, and the current travel limit area estimation processing, as shown in FIG. 13, in the information system for automotive achieved in the embodiment described above. However, the present invention is not limited to this example and the loss/regeneration parameter calculation processing and the current travel limit area estimation processing may be executed in the navigation device 1 installed in each vehicle instead of delegating the processing to the server device 500. In such a case, the navigation device 1 installed in each vehicle will be able to calculate the statistical parameter values by executing the processing in step S220 through step S340 in FIG. 9 based upon the acceleration/deceleration information recorded in the HDD 14. In addition, the navigation device 1 will be able to estimate the power consumption quantity or the power regeneration quantity indicating the quantity of power expected to be consumed or regenerated by the particular vehicle as it travels ahead on the expected route ahead by executing the processing in steps S420 through S490 in FIG. 13 based upon the statistical parameter values thus calculated and then display a current travel limit area corresponding to the estimated power consumption quantity or the estimated power regeneration quantity on the map at the display monitor 15. As a further alternative, the navigation device 1 may obtain acceleration/deceleration information pertaining to another vehicle through vehicle-to-vehicle communication carried out with the other vehicle.

    (Variation 2)



    [0137] In the embodiment described above, the navigation device 1 detects an acceleration/deceleration change upon deciding in step S120 in FIG. 7 that the vehicle 100 has shifted from an accelerating state to a decelerating state or from a decelerating state to an accelerating state. However, an acceleration/deceleration change may be detected through a method other than this. For instance, instead of calculating the difference between the current average traveling speed and the previous average traveling speed in step S110, an extent of change manifested by the current acceleration/deceleration rate relative to the previous acceleration/deceleration rate may be calculated and the navigation device 1 may detect an acceleration/deceleration change upon determining that the extent of change is equal to or greater than a predetermined value. In this case, an acceleration/deceleration change can be detected at, for instance, an inflection point at which the traveling speed changes drastically, as well as at the time of an acceleration/deceleration changeover.

    (Variation 3)



    [0138] The navigation device 1 in the embodiment described above does not detect any acceleration/deceleration change in step S120 in FIG, 7 as long as the difference between the previous average traveling speed and current average traveling speed is equal to or less than a predetermined change ratio. This change ratio may be altered in correspondence to the number of times an acceleration/deceleration change is detected within a predetermined length of time. In such a case, it is desirable to reduce the change ratio if the number of times an acceleration/deceleration change has been detected is small and to increase the change ratio if the number of times an acceleration/deceleration change has been detected is large. Through these measures, the frequency at which an acceleration/deceleration change is detected can be adjusted to an optimal level in correspondence to the traveling conditions and the like of the vehicle 100.

    (Variation 4)



    [0139] The navigation device 1 in the embodiment described above records the average traveling speed calculated for the vehicle 100 in step S100 as part of the acceleration/deceleration information in step S170 in FIG. 7 and then transmits the acceleration/deceleration information to the server device 500 in step S100. However, the present invention is not limited to this example and another type of information, e.g., information indicating the acceleration/deceleration rate, instead of the average traveling speed, may be transmitted as part of the acceleration/deceleration information. Namely, any information may be transmitted as the acceleration/deceleration information as long as it enables the server device 500 to make an accurate decision pertaining to an acceleration/deceleration change.

    (Variation 5)



    [0140] While the navigation device 1 functions as an on-vehicle device in the embodiment described above, the present invention is not limited to this example and it may be adopted in an on-vehicle device other than a navigation device. In addition, while the estimated power consumption quantity calculated for the road through which the vehicle is expected to travel is utilized when determining a specific current travel limit area for the vehicle in the embodiment described above, the estimated power consumption quantity may be utilized for other purposes. For instance, a search for a recommended route to the destination may be executed based upon the estimated power consumption quantity or a suggestion for a stopover point within the route may be made based upon the estimated power consumption quantity.

    (Variation 6)



    [0141] While the power consumption quantity or the power regeneration quantity for an electric vehicle (EV) is estimated in the embodiment described above, the present invention is not limited to this example and may be adopted in a vehicle other than an EV. For instance, the present invention may be adopted in a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) driven by using electricity and a fuel such as gasoline, or in a conventional vehicle driven exclusively with a fuel such as gasoline. It is to be noted that when the present invention is adopted in a conventional vehicle without any energy regenerating system such as regenerative braking, an estimated energy consumption quantity should be calculated by setting the regeneration coefficient R in expression (23) to 0.

    [0142] The embodiment and variations thereof described above may be adopted in any combination to realize a combination of advantages. In addition, the embodiment and variations thereof described above simply represent examples and the present invention is in no way limited to these examples as long as the features characterizing the present invention remain intact.

    REFERENCE SIGNS LIST



    [0143] 
    1
    navigation device
    2
    vehicle control device
    3
    battery
    4
    power conversion device
    5
    electric motor
    6
    communication terminal
    10
    control unit
    11
    GPS reception unit
    12
    vibration gyro
    13
    vehicle speed sensor
    14
    HDD
    15
    display monitor
    16
    speaker
    17
    input device
    80, 100, 200, 300
    vehicles
    400
    mobile communication network
    500
    server device
    501
    arithmetic processing unit
    502
    storage unit



    Claims

    1. An energy estimation device comprising:

    an energy change quantity estimation unit configured to estimate an energy change quantity of a vehicle (80) in correspondence to a selected link and considering data of a next link adjacent to the selected link such as average speed and altitude and for each of the links set in correspondence to a predetermined road segment;

    an axle torque calculation unit configured to calculate, based upon the energy change quantity estimated by the energy change quantity estimation unit, an axle torque applied to an axle of the vehicle (80) during energy regeneration, wherein the axle torque is calculated for a regeneration link in which energy is regenerated upon traveling of the vehicle (80) on a road segment;

    an allocation ratio calculation unit configured to calculate, based upon the axle torque calculated by the axle torque calculation unit, an allocation ratio, the allocation ratio being a ratio of allocation of a regeneration brake relative to a friction brake of the vehicle (80) for the regeneration link, wherein the relationships between axle torques and the allocation ratios are stored in advance; and

    a regeneration energy estimation unit configured to estimate regeneration energy of the vehicle (80) for the regeneration link based upon the energy change quantity and the allocation ratio calculated by the allocation ratio calculation unit.


     
    2. An energy estimation device according to claim 1, further comprising:

    a traveling speed estimation unit configured to estimate a traveling speed of the vehicle (80) for the regeneration link, wherein

    the allocation ratio calculation unit is further configured to calculate the allocation ratio based upon the axle torque and the traveling speed estimated by the traveling speed estimation unit.


     
    3. A method for controlling an energy estimation device according to claim 1, comprising the steps:

    estimate an energy change quantity of a vehicle (80) in correspondence to a selected link and considering data of a next link adjacent to the selected link such as average speed and altitude and for each of the links set in correspondence to a predetermined road segment

    calculate, based upon the estimated energy change quantity an axle torque applied to an axle of the vehicle (80) during energy regeneration, wherein the axle torque is calculated for a regeneration link in which energy is regenerated upon traveling of the vehicle (80) on a road segment;

    calculate, based upon the calculated axle torque an allocation ratio, the allocation ratio being a ratio of allocation of a regeneration brake relative to a friction brake of the vehicle (80) for the regeneration link wherein the relationships between axle torques and the allocation ratios are stored in advance and,

    estimate regeneration energy of the vehicle (80) for the regeneration link based upon the energy change quantity and the calculated allocation ratio.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Energieschätzvorrichtung, die Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Energieänderungsmengen-Schätzeinheit, die konfiguriert ist, eine Energieänderungsmenge eines Fahrzeugs (80) in Übereinstimmung mit einer ausgewählten Verbindung und dem Betrachten von Daten einer nächsten Verbindung, die sich neben der ausgewählten Verbindung befindet, wie Durchschnittsgeschwindigkeit und Höhe, und für jede der Verbindungen, die in Übereinstimmung mit einem vorbestimmten Straßensegment eingestellt worden sind, zu schätzen;

    eine Achsdrehmoment-Berechnungseinheit, die konfiguriert ist, basierend auf der Energieänderungsmenge, die von der Energieänderungsmengen-Schätzeinheit geschätzt worden ist, ein Achsdrehmoment zu berechnen, das während einer Energieregeneration auf eine Achse des Fahrzeugs (80) ausgeübt wird, wobei das Achsdrehmoment für eine Regenerationsverbindung berechnet wird, in der Energie beim Fahren des Fahrzeugs (80) auf einem Straßensegment regeneriert wird;

    eine Zuordnungsverhältnis-Berechnungseinheit, die konfiguriert ist, basierend auf dem Achsdrehmoment, das durch die Achsdrehmoment-Berechnungseinheit berechnet worden ist, ein Zuordnungsverhältnis zu berechnen, wobei das Zuordnungsverhältnis einem Verhältnis einer Zuordnung einer Regenerationsbremse relativ zu einer Reibungsbremse des Fahrzeugs (80) für die Regenerationsverbindung entspricht, wobei die Beziehungen zwischen Achsdrehmomenten und den Zuordnungsverhältnissen in Voraus gespeichert werden; und

    eine Regenerationsenergie-Schätzeinheit, die konfiguriert ist, die Regenerationsenergie des Fahrzeugs (80) für die Regenerationsverbindung basierend auf der Energieveränderungsmenge und dem Zuordnungsverhältnis, das von der Zuordnungsverhältnis-Berechnungseinheit berechnet worden ist, zu schätzen.


     
    2. Energieschätzvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, die ferner Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Fahrgeschwindigkeits-Schätzeinheit, die konfiguriert ist, eine Fahrgeschwindigkeit des Fahrzeugs (80) für die Regenerationsverbindung zu schätzen, wobei

    die Zuordnungsverhältnis-Berechnungseinheit ferner konfiguriert ist, das Zuordnungsverhältnis basierend auf dem Achsdrehmoment und der Fahrgeschwindigkeit, die von der Fahrgeschwindigkeits-Schätzeinheit geschätzt worden ist, zu berechnen.


     
    3. Verfahren zum Steuern einer Energieschätzvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, das die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    Schätzen einer Energieänderungsmenge des Fahrzeugs (80) in Übereinstimmung mit einer ausgewählten Verbindung und dem Betrachten von Daten einer nächsten Verbindung, die sich neben der ausgewählten Verbindung befindet, wie Durchschnittsgeschwindigkeit und Höhe, und für alle der Verbindungen, die in Übereinstimmung mit einem vorbestimmten Straßensegment eingestellt worden sind;

    Berechnen eines Achsdrehmoments, das während einer Energieregeneration auf eine Achse des Fahrzeugs (80) ausgeübt wird, basierend auf der geschätzten Energieänderungsmenge, wobei das Achsdrehmoment für eine Regenerationsverbindung berechnet wird, in der Energie beim Fahren des Fahrzeugs (80) auf einem Straßensegment regeneriert wird;

    Berechnen des Zuordnungsverhältnisses, das einem Verhältnis einer Zuordnung einer Regenerationsbremse relativ zu einer Reibungsbremse des Fahrzeugs (80) für die Regenerationsverbindung entspricht, basierend auf dem berechneten Achsdrehmoment, wobei die Beziehungen zwischen Achsdrehmomenten und den Zuordnungsverhältnissen in Voraus gespeichert werden; und

    Schätzen einer Regenerationsenergie des Fahrzeugs (80) für die Regenerationsverbindung basierend auf der Energieveränderungsmenge und dem berechneten Zuordnungsverhältnis.


     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif d'estimation d'énergie comprenant :

    une unité d'estimation de quantité de changement d'énergie configurée pour estimer une quantité de changement d'énergie d'un véhicule (80) en correspondance d'un lien sélectionné et en considérant des données d'un lien suivant adjacent au lien sélectionné comme une vitesse moyenne et une altitude, et pour chacun des liens placé en correspondance d'un segment routier prédéterminé ;

    une unité de calcul de couple à l'essieu configurée pour calculer, sur la base de la quantité de changement d'énergie estimée par l'unité d'estimation de quantité de changement d'énergie, un couple à l'essieu appliqué à un essieu du véhicule (80) pendant une régénération d'énergie, dans lequel le couple à l'essieu est calculé pour un lien de régénération dans lequel de l'énergie est régénérée lors de la circulation du véhicule (80) sur un segment routier ;

    une unité de calcul de rapport d'attribution configurée pour calculer, sur la base du couple à l'essieu calculé par l'unité de calcul de couple à l'essieu, un rapport d'attribution, le rapport d'attribution étant un rapport d'attribution d'un frein de régénération en relation avec un frein à friction du véhicule (80) pour le lien de régénération, dans lequel les relations entre les couples à l'essieu et les rapports d'attribution sont stockés à l'avance ; et

    une unité d'estimation d'énergie de régénération configurée pour estimer une énergie de régénération du véhicule (80) pour le lien de régénération sur la base de la quantité de changement d'énergie et du rapport d'attribution calculé par l'unité de calcul de rapport d'attribution.


     
    2. Dispositif d'estimation d'énergie selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre :

    une unité d'estimation de vitesse de circulation configurée pour estimer une vitesse de circulation du véhicule (80) pour le lien de régénération, dans lequel

    l'unité de calcul de rapport d'attribution est en outre configurée pour calculer le rapport d'attribution sur la base du couple à l'essieu et de la vitesse de circulation estimée par l'unité d'estimation de vitesse de circulation.


     
    3. Procédé pour commander un dispositif d'estimation d'énergie selon la revendication 1, comprenant les étapes consistant à :
    estimer une quantité de changement d'énergie d'un véhicule (80) en correspondance d'un lien sélectionné et considérer des données d'un lien suivant adjacent au lien sélectionné, comme une vitesse moyenne et une altitude et, pour chacun des liens mis en correspondance à un segment routier prédéterminé :

    calculer, sur la base de la quantité de changement d'énergie estimée, un couple à l'essieu appliqué à un essieu du véhicule (80) pendant la régénération d'énergie, dans lequel le couple à l'essieu est calculé pour un lien de régénération dans lequel l'énergie est régénérée lors de la circulation du véhicule (80) sur un segment routier ;

    calculer, sur la base du couple à l'essieu calculé, un rapport d'attribution, le rapport d'attribution étant un rapport d'attribution d'un frein en régénération en relation à un frein à friction du véhicule (80) pour le lien de régénération, dans lequel les relations entre les couples à l'essieu et les rapports d'attribution sont stockées à l'avance, et

    estimer une énergie de régénération du véhicule (80) pour le lien de régénération sur la base de la quantité de changement d'énergie et du rapport d'attribution calculé.


     




    Drawing













































    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description