World’s first predictive gearshift system developed

24 February 2020

24 February 2020

Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation have announced their development of the world’s first predictive gearshift system.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System allows the vehicle to automatically change into the optimum gear based on road and traffic conditions. The technology promises to improve fuel efficiency and driving comfort by minimising unnecessary gear shifts.

The car manufacturers both plan to make use of the technology in future vehicles. During the development of this system, the companies filed roughly 40 major patents in South Korea and abroad. Upcoming developments look to include the driver’s preferences and traffic signal status.

Intelligent input

Intelligent software in the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) uses data from real-time inputs to make assessments.

One of these sources is the 3D navigation system which is equipped with a precise map of the road. This includes elevation, gradient, curvature and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions. Smart cruise control will also make use of radar, detecting the speed and distance between the vehicle and other road users. A forward-looking camera will gather lane information.

The TCU uses all of this information to predict the optimal shift scenario through an artificial intelligence algorithm, changing gears accordingly. For example, when a relatively long slowdown is expected, and radar detects no speed irregulates ahead, the transmission clutch will temporarily switch to neutral to improve fuel efficiency.

During testing on a heavily curved road, a vehicle equipped with the system experienced a 43% reduction in shift frequency during cornering, compared to a car without it. The manufacturers also found braking frequency dropped by approximately 11%.

When rapid acceleration was required to enter a highway, sport mode was automatically engaged to meet traffic flow. Once merging was complete, the vehicle returned to its original driving mode, meaning greater efficiency. The intelligent system also applied the engine brakes on release of the accelerator by determining speed bumps, downhill slopes and speed-limit changes.

Hyundai and Kia are also planning to incorporate 5G or LTE technologies into the Connected Shift System. This would allow the car to communicate with traffic signals and identify drivers’ tendencies, allowing further refinement of gearshift control.

Smart solutions

′Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions,’ said Byeong Wook Jeon, head of Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab. ′Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimised for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies.’

This investment in future technologies follows a trend for Hyundai and Kia, who’ve pledged to invest $87 billion (€80 billion) over the next five years to foster future growth. Accordingly, Hyundai plans to invest $52 billion (€48 billion) in future tech through 2025. Meanwhile, Kia will put $25 billion (€23 billion) into electrification and future mobility technologies, aiming for eco-friendly vehicles to comprise 25% of its total sales by 2025.

Examples of this investment strategy can be seen in the group’s recent collaboration with Canoo, a company developing a subscription-based electric vehicle (EV). This comes alongside Hyundai and Kia’s investment in Arrival, another EV start-up.