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BMW Cars To Feature Smarter Automatic Transmissions

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On: Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 4:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW Cars To Feature Smarter Automatic Transmissions

If recent BMW concepts and technologies are any indication, the cars of the future are going to drive themselves with ease. In Geneva earlier this year, BMW presented the Vision ConnectedDrive, a concept designed to showcase technologies such as an intuitive information system with 3D heads-up display and advanced vehicle sensor systems. A new BMW component shows how the German luxury company will use technology to redefine automatic transmissions.

Today's automatic transmissions upshift and downshift through gears based on on-board computers and/or valves. The process can be less smooth and efficient than manual shifting because the automatic transmission does not have the same feel for the road as the driver.

But BMW sees the future transmission as something more, something smarter. BMW's Foresight transmission uses a set of data derived from the GPS system, stability control system, a mobile data connection, and a series of radar sensors and cameras to determine things like topography, road conditions, traffic, and speed in selecting between eight gears.

In equipping the gearbox with such technology, BMW would make the automatic transmission analogous to the manual transmission, allowing the car to better adapt to the specifics of the road. For instance, the system could determine the best time for downshifting based upon projections of the curvature in the roadway ahead. The system could also stay in low gear longer if it assesses that there are multiple curves up ahead.

By better predicting road conditions and more effectively shifting, the intelligent transmission should also increase efficiency by maximizing the engine's efficacy.

The system is still under development and is expected to become marketable within three to five years. BMW is basing the Foresight technology around the ZF eight-speed transmission equipped to 5-, X- and 7-series models.


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