GPS Shifts Gears – Coming Soon to a Toyota Tundra?

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A GPS system that automatically shifts gears in Semi trucks? Yep and it is better on fuel than a real driver. Could this new technology someday make it into a Toyota Tundra?

GPS Shifts Gears

Navigation systems already tell you where to go. New GPS systems use data that can shift gears. Could a navigation system with the gear shifting ability be in a future Tundra?

A story in Autopia says that Daimler has developed a new “speed control system” for SEMI trucks. This system will use GPS data to anticipate hills and choose the right gear out of the truck’s 12-speed automatic transmission.

The Predicitive Power Control, available on the Mercedes-Benz Actros (not sold in the U.S.), uses topographic data to decide which gear makes sense. It could also decide to activate the “EcoRoll” function in the Actros which puts the truck in neutral.

According to Daimler, a truck with a heavy load that is driving over a hilly terrain could see as much as three percent improvement in fuel economy. These fuel savings “could only be matched by an extremely motivated truck driver with an exceptional level of concentration” and intuitive knowledge of the road. The story also says “Of course, manual controls are always available to the driver for maximum control.”

This technology is part of a growing trend. In 2009, Daimler released a system to control the truck’s throttle and in 2001 Toyota debuted NAVI.AI-Shift, a system that like Daimler’s uses GPS data to predict hilly terrain and select the best gear.

Currently the NAVI.AI-Shift system is only available in Japan. According to another Autopia story, “The system shifts your car into lower gear as the vehicle approached hills or tight corners, minimizing “transmission hunting” and maintaining smooth acceleration.” Toyota has since followed this feature with a NAVI AI-AVS in 2006. This system has a memory that save the “location of bumps along frequently traveled routes and identified upcoming turns, then tuned the suspension for optimal comfort and handling.” It also has other features such as slowing the car as it approached toll booths and freeway off-ramps, warned drivers when they were about to run a stop sign and increased the car’s braking if the driver wasn’t aggressive enough.

What’s next? Could a consumer GPS unit tell you what the best gear to use when say you are towing a load over hilly terrain? You bet. There is a lot of interest in making advanced GPS systems that increasing take over some of the car functions. It looks likely we are destined to go from “driver” to “pilot w/autopilot.”

What do you think? Is this a good thing? Or will you miss the days when you actually drove a car?

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Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. mendonsy says:

    The directions from the current GPS systems seem to be more entertaining than useful. The maps will have to be a LOT more accurate before they can be used for controlling any vehicle.

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      Agree 100%.

      Another issue is that most GPS systems can’t fix their altitude all that accurately…it’s hard to do without a lot of satellites in the sky or a local beacon (planar geometry problem).

  2. Winghunter says:

    NO automated system can (or should) take control away from the driver of any vehicle.

    Toyota has already gone much too far down that road.

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      I hear what you’re saying, but that toothpaste is already out of the tube. I fully expect we’ll see vehicles that drive themselves on US roads in the next 20 years, and I think a lot of consumers are going to love them because they’re going to save people a ton of time that is currently wasted.

      Don’t get me wrong – I understand your point completely – but I think it’s inevitable.

      How’s your truck, BTW?

  3. Mark Jr. says:

    100% agree Winghunter. It is bad enough already that Toyota has vehicles accelerating unintentionally without driver input leading to accidents and death.

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