Other than the increase in the number of gears in an automatic transmission there have been few breakthroughs in transmission developments. We may have a breakthrough now. Hyundai and Kia say they’ve developed a transmission that can predict the gear it should be in at any given point. It’s called the “Information and Communication Technology Connected Shift System.” Something simpler like “Predictive Shifting” might have been a better name, but we digress.
The engineers say this new type of transmission “enables the vehicle to automatically shift to the optimal gear after identifying the road and traffic conditions ahead.” It must be radical as it required 40 patents to be filed by the two companies.
The ICT Predictive Shift Technology will be found in Hyundai products soon
This won’t be some future-tech. Hyundai/Kia is putting the new technology into production vehicles soon. From the press release:
ICT Connected Shift System uses intelligent software in the Transmission Control Unit (TCU). It collects and interprets real-time input from underlying technologies including 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road as well as cameras and radar for smart cruise control. The 3D navigation input includes elevation, gradient, curvature, and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions. Radar detects the speed and distance between the vehicle and others, and a forward-looking camera provides lane information.
The statement goes on to say:
Using all of these inputs the TCI predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations. It uses an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly. For example, when a relatively long slowdown is expected and radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead, the transmission clutch temporarily switches to neutral mode. This improves fuel efficiency.
Hyundai is looking for an edge by increasing fuel economy with predictive shifting
This is all an attempt to increase mileage. The ICT Connected Shift System in concert with Hyundai’s SmartStream engine technology could substantially increase fuel efficiency. Brake wear would also be reduced because the vehicle would downshift in anticipation of slowing or coming to a stop.
SmartStream is a line of Hyundai engines that contain a number of electronic technologies like variable valve duration adjusting for optimized timing. These engines currently utilize wet eight-speed dual-clutch transmissions. Shifting is smoother and quicker to save fuel consumption.
Track testing has shown vast improvements over traditional automatic transmissions
According to Hyundai, it tested a vehicle with ICT on a track with many turns. It found the vehicle executed 43% fewer shifts going into corners. Also, brake operation was 11% less than without ICT. Powering out of turns or accelerating to merge onto a freeway the ICT transmission changes modes for optimal performance.
Beyond where the technology is now Hyundai has goals further out. It says it plans “to further develop the ICT Connected Shift System into an even more intelligent transmission technology that can communicate with traffic signals based on LTE or 5G communication. It will also identify a driver’s tendencies resulting in further refinement of gearshift control.”
Fuel economy is a strong selling point. By offering competitive styling and interior features in concert with this new technology will put Hyundai and Kia ahead in a race they are already leading in some cases.