Appending High-Resolution Elevation Data to GPS Speed Traces for Vehicle Energy Modeling and Simulation

Eric Wood, Evan Burton, Adam Duran, Jeffrey Gonder

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Accurate and reliable global positioning system (GPS)-based vehicle use data are highly valuable for many transportation, analysis, and automotive considerations. Model-based design, real-world fuel economy analysis, and the growing field of autonomous and connected technologies (including predictive powertrain control and self-driving cars) all have a vested interest in high-fidelity estimation of powertrain loads and vehicle usage profiles. Unfortunately, road grade can be a difficult property to extract from GPS data with consistency. In this report, we present a methodology for appending high-resolution elevation data to GPS speed traces via a static digital elevation model. Anomalous data points in the digital elevation model are addressed during a filtration/smoothing routine,resulting in an elevation profile that can be used to calculate road grade. This process is evaluated against a large, commercially available height/slope dataset from the Navteq/Nokia/HERE Advanced Driver Assistance Systems product. Results will show good agreement with the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems data in the ability to estimate road grade between any two consecutive points in the contiguous United States.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-61109


  • advanced driver assistance system
  • connected vehicle data
  • digital elevation model
  • global positioning system
  • real-world fuel economy
  • road grade


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