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BMW Making Transmissions that Predict the Future

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

Much of the technology that’s now common on many road cars was first developed for German flagship sedans. It’s such a predictable trend that some people say if you want to see the car of tomorrow, look at what BMW and Mercedes are doing today.

Today, BMW is working on a transmission that uses GPS and road condition sensors that will dictate how the car will drive.

BMW debuted the system at its annual event called ‘Innovation Days’ where BMW showcases upcoming and concept tech to those interested.

Cars have long used stability and traction control systems with sensors in the wheels to read if a car is starting to slide. The only problem is that these systems are reactive and the car doesn’t do anything until a tire has already started slipping across the road.

The new transmission control system will be capable of detecting road conditions and hopefully can prevent a bad situation before it happens. Readings are taken from cameras, radar sensors and even the car’s navigation system to decide if there is rain on the ground, if there is traffic ahead or if a curve is coming up in the road.

With the information collected, the transmission will decide which gear the car should be in, as well as how much power will go to the wheels.

The addition of electronic driving aids has been long lamented by driving purists who see this type of system as an overbearing parent. Nevertheless, the system is likely to find its way into BMW’s next 7 series flagship sedan and, if successful, the rest of the BMW lineup.

The system isn’t just there for safety, BMW says that the system is capable of reading the radius of a bend just like an experienced racing driver. The car can then select the best gears for that corner so drivers will be able to accelerate out of the bend without the car pausing to change into the proper gear. This means better efficiency and more speed out of a corner for those looking for it.

The system is still being developed so there’s no telling just when, or if, the system will find its way into road cars, but there’s no doubting that all car makers are trying to improve their car’s safety and efficiency.

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BMW Making Transmissions that Predict the Future - Autotrader