BMW 8-speed transmission

BMW 8-speed transmission

Most of BMW's EfficientDynamics technologies are pretty sleepy numbers: nearly-invisible aerodynamic tweaks, thermal efficiency improvements, electric power-assist systems, and the like. Some of them, however, are downright fascinating, like the future predictive eight-speed transmission detailed this week.

It's not yet ready for production, but BMW says it has reached the advanced development stage with a transmission that can predict and adapt gearshift commands dynamically to the driving situation. What does that mean? The computer gathers inputs from the driver, scans the topology of the road ahead, and relates all of it to traffic data to anticipate the ideal gear for the circumstances. Pretty awesome stuff, especially given the direct and connected feel we've noted in drives of the new eight-speed transmission the system is based on.

Using an interface that includes data from the traction and stability control systems, navigation, radar sensors, and cameras, the system takes into account things like the surface friction coefficient (helpful especially in slippery conditions), the radius of a corner, cars ahead, and more. All of this data goes into selecting the ideal gear. But what does ideal mean?

In classic BMW style, the system is presented as an efficiency-enhancing technology, but the language in the release consistently talks about maximizing control and acceleration in any situation. This is the kind of efficiency tech we can get behind.

Some of the other technologies BMW previewed this week include "targeted electrification," which includes more ActiveHybrid models and EVs; the new four-cylinder twin-turbo engine featured in the X1; a new diesel six-cylinder; and a look at the role lightweight materials will play in the future.