World-first automatic scans external conditions and adjusts shifts in real time.
Cars with 'eyes' are not new. For a couple of years now, Mercedes' Magic Body Control system has been used to scan the road ahead (using windshield-mounted cameras) to pick up on surface changes and adjust the car's suspension accordingly. Long before that, parking sensors have been in place to save thousands of less capable drivers an embarrassing incident with cars - or other objects - in close proximity.
Now, Hyundai and Kia are set to take the ability to evaluate a vehicle's external environment and apply it to a transmission. Claimed to be a world-first, it's called the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System, developed for combustion vehicles.
The co-developed transmission makes use of 40 patents, a sign of its technological innovation. Essentially, the system will scan the road using a combination of cameras and radars. Together with the 3D navigation system, data like traffic congestion, upcoming turns, and gradient transitions will be fed through to the transmission control unit (TCU). The distance to vehicles ahead is also taken into account.
Using all of this information, the system calls upon an artificial intelligence algorithm that can predict - in real-time - optimal gearshifts. According to the Korean automakers, shifts were reduced by around 43 percent when the system was tested on a road with many curves.
Other benefits of the system include an 11 percent reduction in the use of the brakes, while merging on a highway will see the driving mode switch to Sport for optimal acceleration, before returning to the previous driving mode when the merge is complete. While it all sounds quite complex, it also makes a lot of sense.
Truly efficient driving only comes about when we're constantly evaluating changing conditions ahead of us, but doing this for even more than a few minutes takes a lot of commitment. Hyundai and Kia's new gearbox, in theory, does the work for us.
While we don't yet know when the system will debut, or on which of the brands' respective models, Hyundai's demonstrative images feature the latest Sonata, so perhaps this is a likely early candidate for the advanced transmission.