• Apr 6, 2011
BMW Eight-Speed Adaptive Transmission – Click above for high-res image gallery

BMW just wrapped up its annual Innovation Days here in Munich, and in addition to detailing its new modular engines (turbocharged three-, four- and six-cylinder powerplants), showing off a range of lightweight components and discussing the possibility of equipping a future EV with a range-extending engine, BMW revealed plans for a new adaptive transmission based on its current eight-speed gearbox.

Utilizing GPS mapping, a wireless data connection, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), front and rear-mounted cameras and radar sensors, the transmission can adapt its shifting pattern and power delivery to suit road conditions.

So, let's say you're heading out on the road and it's raining. The data connection pulls in the most recent weather information, the DSC takes in the coefficient of friction of the road and then restricts power to avoid wheel spin. With the integrated GPS, the system can detect the next curve, recognize you're in Sport mode and downshift into a lower gear to perfectly suit the bend you're about to bomb.

The range of applications is only limited by the amount of data the system can pull in and process, and while BMW wouldn't divulge when this technology would hit production, there's a good chance that the next iteration of the 7 Series could benefit from the system and then filter down throughout BMW's range. Check out the gallery below for a series of illustrations showing the system in action and get more details in the press blast after the break.



[Source: BMW]
Show full PR text
Development objective: identify road profile, understand driver's wishes.

As a result of further development there is now the possibility to adapt gearshift commands given by the transmission control system to each driving situation even more flexibly and at the same time more accurately. The anticipatory transmission control system currently in the advance development stage utilises, in addition to the driver's intention, further information to take into consideration road surface conditions, road topology as well as the traffic situation when selecting the ideal gear. For this purpose, the transmission control system is linked to both the DSC (Dynamics Stability Control) function as well as the navigation system in the initial stage. In the configuration levels that follow, a link-up with the cameras utilised for the driver assistance systems or radar and additional sensors respectively is under consideration.

The data provided by the DSC sensors pertaining to the road surface friction coefficient help the system particularly in the case of low friction coefficients to prepare optimally for the typical control intervention during the acceleration phase that follows. Using the data provided by the navigation system, it is possible to determine the radius of a bend long before it is approached. Based on this information the transmission control system then determines with even greater accuracy the gear required for a smooth driving manoeuvre and confident acceleration out of the bend. Moreover, using information provided by cameras and radar sensors and pertaining to the traffic situation ahead of the vehicle, it will in future be possible to determine for example the required amount of deceleration and adapt the drive management to each specific situation.

In practice and thanks to this anticipatory control system, the automatic transmission adapts remarkably accurately to the situation-related requirements and demands of the driver. As a result of the complexity of the factors taken into consideration by the control system, the automatic transmission selects the appropriate gear similarly as foresighted as an experienced driver using a manual gearbox. It assists the driver with fast and appropriate response, which immediately leads to an increase in driving pleasure and optimised efficiency. Hence, the interaction between driver and vehicle reaches a new dimension.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd settle for a transmission that can predict when you're going to slow down. I hate when I let off the throttle for an approaching stop sign, and the transmission upshifts. It should at least stay in the same gear, or even downshift. Sure it's auto, but it doesn't have to be dumb.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Agreed!

        I have a DSG currently and even though its fast, it's dumb.

        Make it smart so that, when I'm just driving, it's great! And when in manual mode, let me have the fun!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Awesome, now there'll be even more BMW a-holes on the roads.

      I'm curious to know if they put this much into designing their air pumps... since I've yet to see a BMW in for service w/ anything but a bad air pump or computer glitch.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The technology is impressive, but I thought that's what manual mode was for. I personally prefer to KISS - fewer things that can go wrong, less weight, not to mention retain the already diminishing interaction with the vehicle.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I recently drove an M6 - it was just around Houston while visiting some family, so not much of a 'drive' - but ugggh, BMW needs to work on other areas of its cars first; an 'adaptive' transmission of this type is simply ridiculous when there is so much other stuff wrong with their products.

      The steering was devoid of feel, and those ridiculous run-flats make simple cracks in the pavement feel twice as sharp as they should... (And from what I gather, the new 6 series has even worse steering feel than its predecessor.) Anyway, my list of issues with this car would make me sound like an impossible critic, but the amazing tech just doesn't add up to a great car.

      This latest transmission news is just more evidence that product managers and higher-ups don't know how poorly BMW is comparing to the competition. (Car magazine, which is normally sympathetic to BMWs only gave their latest 6 a mere three stars.... and wow, that is awful) There are so few true driver cars on the market, and it seems we are losing yet another manufacturer to tech overload.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sure, I'll pay $5000 for this package AND lose the privilege and enjoyment of actually driving my own car. [rolleyes] BMW, whatever happened to the Joy of Driving?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Whatever happened to The Ultimate Driving Machine?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't have money to race or anything so curves are the only enjoyment I get, and BMW decides to take that away. lol. Way to make the commute boring, it's like you're trying to make the Toyota Camry fun to drive.
      • 3 Years Ago
      ???? Strange, Audi A8, Audi A7 and Audi A6. All those cars have that system.???????
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think this is taking a step further. From what I understand the Audi A8 gets road info from Google so it can do the downshift-before-a-hill kind of thing... this looks like BMW is adding more info like the weather into the calculations.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Toyota developed this type of technology for some of their JDM-only cars about 10 years ago. Not really that groundbreaking.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This technology has been around for years. I think BMW called it a manual transmission, or "stick shift" in slang. Back in the old days we had other names for it like four on the floor three on the tree. Worked really well too, and could easily go for over a 100k mi with maybe only a $50-300 (depending on inflation) part called a clutch disc.
        • 3 Years Ago
        So true. Great post. I like your sense of humor.
        • 3 Years Ago
        *like*
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whatever happened to just being a good driver?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Only an old person would buy a 7 series...hence the need for idiot proof technology.
        • 3 Years Ago
        BMW - the ultimate computing machine.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am afraid this will result in even less attention paid to driving by drivers. They are dumbing down driving.
      • 3 Years Ago
      coming soon to your local BMW dealer.....a 5 series that drives itself....what happened to the joy of the driving?
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