By on April 4, 2011

As a rally driver, you have a navigator in the other seat. What do you need him for? He knows the road ahead and tells you how to drive in the fastest and most efficient manner. As in “you want to take that turn at around 80. When you come out of the turn, stay in low, there’s another sharp right turn right behind that.” Or fewer words to that effect.

When I met Jutta Kleinschmidt, Volkswagen’s Touareg Dakar Rallye driver, she had this lithe Italian woman as a Navigator. “She’s a skinny little thing,” said Frau Kleinschmidt in her usual don’t-mess-with-me style, “but at least she doesn’t weigh much.”

BMW will do one better. Soon, BMW will give you a navigator that weighs just about nothing. As for the skinny little thing – let’s just say that you won’t be interested in the navigator of someone who lists her homepage here. But let’s not get sidetracked.

BMW has its Innovation Days today and tomorrow at the FIZ. That’s the Forschungs- und Innvoationszentrum in München for you. At today’s conference, BMW showed (amongst other things that shall receive coverage at TTAC) an eight-speed automatic transmission with an “anticipatory transmission control system.” When asked, they admitted that the name needs a little work. In German, it’s a “vorausschauende Getriebesteuerung,” which sounds a little better.

In the „how did they do that“ dept. BMW’s new gearbox received two additional gears over the previous 6, “whilst the number of gear sets has been increased by just one to a total of four,” marvels BMW’s press release. “Thanks to the low number of additional components, the system’s internal efficiency is optimized.”

Now for the good stuff.

BMW has “in advanced development” a system that looks ahead and will consider “road surface conditions, road topology as well as the traffic situation when selecting the ideal gear.”

ATCS 1.0 will get its inputs from the DSC (Dynamics Stability Control) module and from the GPS. That should be plenty of information to decide whether to accelerate with the advance knowledge that there is a nice straightaway coming, or whether to stay in the lower gear, because around that corner lurks just another, even sharper turn. Slippery when wet? The ATCS will take that into consideration.

Like a JSTARS on wheels, ATCS 2.0 will get even finer grained information from cameras, RADAR and additional sensors.

According to BMW, “the automatic transmission selects the appropriate gear similarly as foresighted as an experienced driver using a manual gearbox.” The Tail of the Dragon is waiting for ya, ATCS.

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8 Comments on “BMW Trick Computer Helps You With The Road Less Travelled...”


  • avatar

    Just one more step towards making the driver obsolete.

  • avatar
    twotone

    One question — can it be turned off?

  • avatar

    Sounds utterly boring.

  • avatar
    Tuce

    I would have thought the current range of slushboxes included information from DSC in their algorithms.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    This sounds really cool.  It’s totally useless for people who prefer manuals, but it’s something that can make a boring slushbox somewhat exciting to drive.  I wonder if it can be used to improve fuel economy too?

    • 0 avatar
      benders

      Probably. I seem to remember reading about a similar system for hybrids that would analyse your intended route and manage the battery accordingly so you didn’t end up at the base of a mountain or in the city center with a low battery.

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    Yes, let’s make the transmission even more complicated. Never mind that it makes it more likely to fail and more expensive to fix when it does fail.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    I hit the jump, expecting to find out about when I could get a GPS navigator that’s truly smart enough to tell me what alternative routes I should take for the quickest journey time based on traffic info, time of day & it’s learning of my own driving style.
    This idea does not sound so interesting.  It sounds like it will often get caught out being too clever for its own good… What happens if there is another corner ahead, but it just so happens I decided to up the pace and accelerate into that one?


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