Somewhat along the same lines as fuel-saving navigation, BMW is working on a transmission controller that is linked to the vehicles navigation system to help the tranny predict what gear is needed for unseen obstacles coming at the vehicle.
The navigation transmission control will take into account variables like hill ascent and descent, the radius of a corner and speed limits and make a gearing decision based on this input. Changing gears to better suit the specific road conditions will help the vehicle increase its fuel economy.
On BMW vehicles that are already available, a driving experience control system is included which allows the driver to choose between Sport, Eco Pro and Comfort mode, which affects the transmission response and gear ranges. This new system, called Predictive Power Management, will also give the driver a choice between maximizing fuel efficiency or maximizing sport capability, but it will utilize the vehicles navigation system and front mounted sensors to achieve it.
The Foresight Assistant feature is another system in place on BMW’s which helps save fuel, by choosing the most efficient route for the vehicle to travel. It can also detect when coasting would be appropriate, and will disconnect the transmission for those opportune moments.
These new smart transmissions should be making their way into BMW products by early 2013 and will likely be a feature on the companies new lineup of hybrid cars: the i3 and i8.