Have you ever wanted a truly intelligent transmission / gearbox? Sure there are transmissions out there that can automatically blip the throttle (i.e. rev match) but it's not exactly 'smart' to tell what gear you should be in while you're out on the road. There are automatic slushboxes out there that are more efficient than typical manuals but you still have to be light on the pedals to actually save on fuel.
Hyundai, however, wants to change all that with what they call the 'ICT Connected Shift System'. Short for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), this system can automatically shift to the optimal gear based on road and traffic conditions ahead.
Unlike Hyundai (and Kia's) current Smart Drive System which can shift depending on the driver's preference, the ICT Connected Shift System bases its changing of cogs via road and traffic data. Collecting data from 3D navigation that has a precise map of the road, along with the help of cameras and radar for smart cruise control, the system predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations.
For example, the ICT can temporarily set the transmission clutch to 'neutral' save on fuel should it detect a relatively slow pace and the radar detects no speed irregularities with the car in front. When Hyundai and Kia tested a vehicle with the ICT Connected Shift System on a heavily curved road, the frequency of shifts during cornering was reduced to approximately 43% compared to vehicles without ICT. They also found out that the system was able to reduce the frequency of brake operation by 11%, resulting in minimizing brake fatigue and brake wear.
But can the system also pick up the pace when needed? In a merging highway test, the ICT automatically set the driving mode to 'Sport' in order to make it easier to join the traffic flow. After the vehicle was able to merge, ICT reverted back to the original driving mode to make the powertrain more efficient once more.
Aside from those features, the ICT can also automatically apply the brakes once the driver releases the accelerator pedal by determining speed bumps, downhill slopes, and speed limit change on the road. In the future, Hyundai and Kia are looking to integrate this system to their autonomous vehicles. They claim that it will deliver improved fuel efficiency and a more stable and secure driving experience.
Further development of the ICT is underway as the two companies are looking to make the intelligent transmission system even smarter by making it communicate with traffic lights based on LTE or 5G communication.
“Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions. Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimized for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies,” said Byeong Wook Jeon, Head of Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab.
While the idea of an intelligent transmission that can change gears by itself sounds unnerving, think of it this way; it can save you on fuel costs as well as reduce vehicle and driver wear in the long run. Guess it all comes down to trusting the system.