Industry research and development specialist Ricardo plc has unveiled a research prototype car with a demonstration version of its new electromagnetically-actuated transmission technology. The solution promises to deliver low cost automated manual (AMT) and dual-clutch (DCT) transmissions to the masses.

The technology uses electromagnetic linear actuators to control the internal parts of the transmission, fitted in this case to an Opel Corsa 1.2L petrol-powered car with an AMT. Ricardo claims the unit can reduce size and weight in comparison to traditional automatics, offers shifts as quick as 350ms and can function with software to provide control of either DCT or AMT-equipped cars.

Manual transmission and dry dual-clutch transmissions offer superior efficiency to traditional automatic transmissions due to their direct engagement between engine and driveline, without a power-sapping torque converter. Automated manual transmissions and computer-controlled dual-clutch units offer the ease of driving of automatics with the perfomrance and efficiency benefits of a traditional manual, along with quicker shifts.

Because the technology is more simple to produce and easily scaled across vehicle ranges and sizes, Ricardo claims the system can be produced at lower costs. That could mean widespread implementation of DCT technology across budget and economy-class cars, in addition to the range of luxury and performance cars currently featuring the advanced transmissions.