GPS-aided automatic transmissions – that can predictively change gear for upcoming hills, corners and so on – have been around for many years. But Hyundai and Kia (which are both part of the same company, don’t forget) have just gone one step further with their new ‘ICT Connected Shift System’.
This new tech uses cameras and radar normally reserved for adaptive cruise control systems to monitor road and traffic conditions - as well as detailed GPS maps - to inform the automatic gearbox’s shifts. The companies claim GPS info “includes elevation, gradient, curvature and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions”, while radar “detects the speed and distance between the vehicle and others”, and a normal forward-looking camera keeps track of lane markings.
The transmission then uses all this info to decide when to change gear, and which gear to change into. When they tested the system on a curvy road, it changed gear 43 per cent less often than a normal auto, and the brakes didn’t need to be applied as often.
Among other things, it can automatically switch to Sport mode for motorway slip roads, then back to Normal again once you’ve merged, and use engine braking to slow things down ahead of a speed bump, speed limit change or if you come across a slower moving car.
The companies are also working on a version of the system that can communicate with infrastructure, such as traffic lights and toll booths, and effectively learns your driving style to “further refine gearshift control”.
No idea when we’ll see it in a production car – the companies only say they plan to “apply the technology in their new cars coming in the future”.
Sounds clever though, doesn’t it?
STORY Tom Harrison