The following article was originally published in eeNews Automotive. It is reprinted here with permission.
Automatic transmissions use the performance parameters of the car to select the appropriate reduction ratio. Via Smart Drive Mode, advanced transmissions also adapt to the driver's preferences. Now, Korean car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia are using data from environmental sensors to determine the transmission's shift strategy. This allows the transmission to orient itself to road and traffic conditions.
The new “Information Communication Technology Connected Shift System,” or “ICT,” uses software in the transmission control unit (TCU) that collects and interprets real-time data from various sources. This includes 3D navigation with a precise road map as well as cameras and radar for adaptive cruise control. The 3D navigation data includes information on altitude, gradient, curve progression, and various special features on the road as well as the current traffic situation. The radar determines the distance to vehicles in front and their speed, and a front camera provides information on the lane.
Taking all of this data into account, the transmission control unit uses artificial intelligence to calculate the optimum strategy for real-time driving situations and selects the gears accordingly. For example, if a relatively long delay is expected and the radar doesn’t detect any irregular speed with the vehicle in front, the transmission clutch temporarily switches to neutral mode to save fuel. If a bend is in sight, the transmission will downshift in anticipation.
When testing a vehicle with the ICT-connected shift system on a very winding road, the number of gearshifts in bends was 43% lower than in a vehicle without the system. Accordingly, the number of brake applications was also reduced by 11%, which also counteracted driver fatigue and brake wear.
If rapid acceleration was required when entering the motorway, the system automatically switched to Sport mode to facilitate integration into the traffic flow. Once this process was complete, the vehicle automatically returned to its original driving mode, allowing safe and efficient driving.
In addition, the system automatically applied the engine brake when the accelerator was released if road thresholds, gradients, or a change in speed limit was detected. And if the radar detected a change in the distance to the vehicle in front, the system automatically selected the optimum gear, which improved the quality of the ride.
The intelligent gearshift system is also in harmony with autonomous technology. In the era of autonomous vehicles, the system contributes to both higher fuel efficiency and a stable driving experience by providing the ability to respond in real time to road and traffic conditions.
The two Korean automakers plan to use the technology in future models. In addition, they plan to further develop the ICT-linked shift system into an even more intelligent transmission technology. It would communicate with traffic signaling systems based on LTE or 5G mobile phone standards and detect the intentions of drivers, resulting in further refined shift control.