When it comes to the automobile, there are useful technologies like electronic stability control and anti-lock braking systems, that make driving safer for the vast majority of motorists. Then there's technology for technology’s sake, like rain-sensing wipers or like BMW’s latest innovation: an eight-speed automatic transmission that receives Global Positioning System (GPS) data to predict shifts.
The system is still in the development stages, but it may eventually find its way into the 7-Series luxury sedan, which is typically the platform BMW uses to highlight their latest technology.
The high-tech transmission combines data from the car’s GPS with data from the Dynamic Stability Control system, which provides real-time information on road conditions. If the system senses a loss of traction, it may delay a downshift, even if the GPS advises that the grade of the road has changed. It anticipates turns in the road as well, adjusting the car’s gearing to match the road conditions. The ultimate goal is to provide a smoother ride for the driver and passengers, by minimizing the amount of time between shifts and by maintaining the proper gear at all times.
Ultimately, the advanced technology transmission will strive to mirror the ride quality and driving dynamics of a manual-transmission equipped vehicle, operated by an experienced driver.