Reinforcement Learning-based Thermal Comfort Control for Vehicle Cabins

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Vehicle climate control systems aim to keep passengers thermally comfortable. However, current systems control temperature rather than thermal comfort and tend to be energy hungry, which is of particular concern when considering electric vehicles. This paper poses energy-efficient vehicle comfort control as a Markov Decision Process, which is then solved numerically using Sarsa(λ) and an empirically validated, single-zone, 1D thermal model of the cabin. The resulting controller was tested in simulation using 200 randomly selected scenarios and found to exceed the performance of bang-bang, proportional, simple fuzzy logic, and commercial controllers with 23%, 43%, 40%, 56% increase, respectively. Compared to the next best performing controller, energy consumption is reduced by 13% while the proportion of time spent thermally comfortable is increased by 23%. These results indicate that this is a viable approach that promises to translate into substantial comfort and energy improvements in the car.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-421
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Thermal comfort
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Equivalent temperature
  • Comfort model
  • Energy consumption


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