Hermann Koch-Groeber, a professor at Germany's University of Heilbronn is working on a transmission system that combines cruise control with the concept of hypermiling, i.e. coasting as much as possible in order to boost fuel economy, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum says. Koch-Groeber is working with Germany-based transmission maker Getrag to develop what's called an 'automated gearbox.' The product factors in road contours to most efficiently guide the vehicle up and down hills and, as a result, there could be a five- to 10-percent fuel-efficiency gain. The math-inclined can take a look at the formulas being used in this PDF.
A prototype for the automated gearbox may be available as soon as next year. That's good timing, especially considering how European automakers need to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in order to meet stricter standards from the European Union. In 2012, the European Commission proposed standards that would reduce fleetwide emissions by 30 percent by 2020.