Posted: Sep 21 2015
by: Andrew Kessler

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MRAP Project Update

It’s been several months since the delivery of our MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle), which now resides in our office parking lot. Whenever the team is outside working on the vehicle, passersby are always asking “What are you guys doing with that thing?”  It’s a reasonable question.

The MRAP being delivered - 6'1" person for scale.

As discussed in previous posts, Lithiumstart has won a two year US Government contract to develop advanced hybridization technologies for large vehicles. But what does that actually mean? As you might imagine, large vehicles like an MRAP do not exactly fall into the "green" category in terms of their fuel efficiency. Fortunately, there is a lot of room for fuel savings using existing on-board equipment. By installing smart electronics tied into the battery, alternator, and Engine Control Unit (ECU), our Vehicle Power Management Controller (VPMC) can act has a system level moderator, and make intelligent decisions such as when to turn the engine off or to fast charge the batteries. We expect significant fuel savings with the introduction of the VPMC. And this wouldn't be for just for MRAPs - similar methods can be applied to commercial trucks, ambulances, fire engines, police cars, and delivery vehicles.

Initial testing has been promising. In addition to installing advanced fuel efficiency monitoring equipment, we’ve interfaced with the ECU and the vehicle’s CANbus to implement remote engine start/stop functionality. The MRAP even has its own local WiFi network, so a passenger in the chase car can monitor vehicle telemetry in real time!

Demonstrating the remote start functionality on the MRAP.


Sample vehicle telemetry from VPMC, viewable from chase car. The plot shows fuel usage rate.

Future work will involve refining the VPMC algorithm, and driving around the hills of South San Francisco collecting fuel efficiency data. So if you’re in the Bay Area and see an MRAP driving around, it's probably us!