Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation have announced that they have developed the first predictive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System in the world. This is technology that makes it possible for the vehicle to automatically shift to the gear that is best depending on the road and traffic conditions. Both companies plan to implement the technology in future models. Hyundai and Kia have already filed about 40 major patents related to the technology in South Korea and overseas.
A few technologies like the Smart Drive Mode in Kia and Hyundai models are already available which can switch gears based on drivers’ preferences, but the ICT Connected Shift System is the first ICT that can automatically shift the gear to the optimal one based on road and traffic conditions.
ICT Connected Shift System leverages intelligent software in the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) that performs the task of collecting and interpreting real-time data from underlying technologies. These include 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road as well as cameras and radar for smart cruise control. The 3D navigation input includes parameters like elevation, gradient, curvature and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions. Radar is used to detect the speed and distance between the vehicle and others, and lane information is received through a forward-looking camera.
AI helps predict optimal shift scenario
Using the data that is thus obtained, the TCU uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to predict the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations and switches the gears accordingly. One instance is when there is a high chance for a relatively long slow down and the radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead. In such a scenario, the transmission clutch temporarily switches to neutral mode to improve fuel efficiency.
Hyundai and Kia tested a vehicle having an ICT Connected Shift System on a heavily curved road and found that the frequency of shifts in cornering was reduced by approximately 43 percent when compared to vehicles which did not have the system. The system also reduced the frequency of brake operation by approximately 11 percent, thus minimizing driving fatigue and brake wear.
When fast acceleration was required to enter a highway, the driving mode was automatically changed to Sport Mode at the merge, thus making it easier for the vehicle to join the traffic flow. After merging with traffic, the vehicle automatically resumed the original driving mode, facilitating safe and efficient driving.
The engine brakes also were automatically applied upon release of the accelerator pedal by determining speed bumps, downhill slopes and identification of the location of the speed limit change on the road. The front radar detected changes in distance from the vehicle in front to adjust appropriate transmission gear automatically, and this enhanced the quality of the ride.
The system also marks an advance in the development of autonomous technology. The ICT Connected Shift System will deliver both improved fuel efficiency and a stable driving experience in the era of autonomous vehicles by providing improving performance based on data related to road and traffic conditions in real time.
Hyundai and Kia plan to further develop the ICT Connected Shift System into an even more intelligent transmission technology that will have the capability to communicate with traffic signals based on LTE or 5G communication and identify drivers’ tendencies, thus further refining gear-shift control.
“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 optimized for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies.”
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