The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced $60m in funding for two new programs that intend to speed up the development of novel energy technologies.

The first program, NEXT-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated on-Road vehicles (NEXTCAR), plans to develop new technologies that lower energy consumption of future vehicles by using connectivity and automation.

The program aims transformative technological solutions that will allow about 20% reduction in the energy consumption of future Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without those technologies.

Potential vehicle energy enhancement technologies may include advanced technologies and concepts relating to full vehicle dynamic control, powertrain control, improved vehicle and powertrain operation via the automation of vehicle dynamics control functions, and improved control and optimization facilitated by connectivity.

The second program, Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS), intends to enhance crop breeding for root and soil function to enable for better carbon storage in plants.

The program intends to develop novel, non-destructive, field deployable technologies to measure root functional properties and soil functional properties; and advance predictive as well as extensible models that accelerate cultivar selection and development.

ARPA-E director Ellen Williams said: "We must continue to invest in programs that encourage the scientific community to think boldly and differently about our nation’s energy future."

"The NEXTCAR program’s focus on exploiting automation to improve energy efficiency in future vehicles and the ROOTS program’s exploration of carbon capture using crops demonstrate ARPA-E’s unique and forward looking approach to energy innovation."