Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors have unveiled a new artificial intelligence (AI)-driven system that will enable autonomous vehicles (AVs) to automatically shift to the optimal gear based on road and traffic conditions.

The new offering has been named Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System.

It uses intelligent software in the transmission control unit (TCU) that procures and assesses real-time input from the 3D navigation system, cameras and radar.

The TCU leverages this information to predict the optimal shift scenario through an AI algorithm and accordingly shifts the car gear.

The use of ICT Connected Shift System is expected to improve fuel efficiency and driving standards.

In addition, the new technology will support AV operations by improving the response of self-driving cars to real-time road and traffic conditions.

Hyundai and Kia will further develop the system in the future, with plans to enable it to communicate with traffic signals and to identify driving patterns for better gear-shift control.

Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab head Byeong Wook Jeon said: “Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions.

“Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimised for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies.”

Both automobile makers now plan to implement the technology on future vehicles.

Overall, Hyundai and Kia have filed around 40 major patents in South Korea and abroad during the development of ICT Connected Shift System.