Gearboxes get cleverer, latest connected/autonomous car news

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

BMW is developing a ‘predictive power management’ auto transmission which uses the car’s sat nav to anticipate and optimise gearshifting. This looks out for bends, hills, valleys and soforth to smooth out progress and thus save fuel; it can downshift before the driver lifts off the accelerator, ‘knows’  when to stay in a lower gear rather than hunting for another, and can signal to the driver to gently decelerate; it will have selectable modes such as sport, comfort or eco (AutoTech Daily).

  • Oh, and Audi too: its term is “predictive efficiency assistant” (PEA) and it goes into more detail on how it can be linked to a freewheel function, regenerative braking and stop-start in a hybrid. Tests around Ingolstadt have shown fuel savings of 10%. Detailed press release posted here. Audi is also about to complete its first phase of testing the A1 e-tron range-extended EV, and is now testing a twin-motor hybrid A1 e-tron called Dual Mode as well.
  • Connected cars mean privacy concerns: Detroit News column says that researchers on the big Ann Arbor pilot study admit these “have yet to be addressed.”
  • Connected-car innovation is coming from outside the auto industry, says Wired – namely third-party/developer apps and APIs. They’ve just got to get inside the ‘walled garden’ first… The Linux Foundation has formed a working group to develop an open-source platform for auto application, in readiness.
  • Autonomously-guided vehicles could account for 75% of road traffic by 2040, says the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers – and side-effects could include getting rid of road infrastructure such as signage and traffic lights, as well as driving licenses. More at Wired.
  • A French research project is developing ‘macroscopic’ computer models to track traffic flow and congestion, looking at flow and density in a fluid-mechanics way rather than plotting individual trajectories. More here.
  • Social control alert #2: Ford is bringing the MyKey system to the UK and first car to get it will be the Fiesta. Owners will get a master key (for a parent, for example) and a second key (for teenage offspring); the second key’s chip will have selectable parameters, such as top speed, volume control on the stereo, speed alerts and extra seatbelt-use warnings. Next step (I reckon) will be curfews and sat nav-imposed boundaries, and someone’s going to propose putting this stuff in the cars of convicted offenders.
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