Hyundai and Kia have announced the development of the world’s first predictive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System, which it says enables a vehicle to automatically shift to the optimal gear after identifying the road and traffic conditions ahead. According to both companies, this technology will make its way into their vehicles, and during its development, about 40 major patents were filed in South Korea and abroad.

The ICT Connected Shift System relies on real-time information obtained from a vehicle’s cameras, radar sensors and 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road. Using these inputs, the transmission control unit predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations through an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly.

As an example, when a relatively long slowdown is expected and the car’s radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead, the transmission temporarily switches to neutral mode to improve fuel efficiency.

During testing on a heavily curved road, the carmakers discovered that the frequency of shifts in cornering was reduced by approximately 43% compared to vehicles without the system. The system also saw a reduction in the frequency of brake operation by approximately 11%, thereby minimizing driving fatigue and brake wear.

In other scenarios such as merging to enter a highway, where rapid acceleration is required, the system automatically switched to Sport mode at the merge to ease joining the traffic flow. After merging with traffic, the vehicle automatically returned to its original driving mode, enabling safe and efficient driving.

Moving forward, Hyundai and Kia are planning to further develop the ICT Connected Shift System to be even more intelligent that can communicate with traffic signals by using LTE or 5G communication and identify drivers’ tendencies, resulting in further refinement of gear-shift control.