MUCH is happening now in terms of connecting the increasingly converging technologies of the manual gearbox and the automatic gearbox to a fast approaching world dominated by artificial intelligence.
In April the 'power management' company Eaton and 'global power leader' Cummins announced an agreement to form a joint venture for automated transmissions for heavy-duty and medium-duty commercial vehicles.
The new joint venture will be named Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies. Cummins and Eaton will each own 50%.
"Customers are focused on powertrain solutions that provide the best combination of technology, performance and quality,” Eaton CEO Craig Arnold said.
"Our joint venture with Cummins will leverage the technical strengths and experience of two industry leaders with long histories and deep industry expertise to provide superior automated transmission technology for our global customers.”
"Our growth strategy includes expanding our product offerings and extending our global footprint by becoming the world's leading powertrain supplier,” Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger said.
"Our joint venture with Eaton will deliver the most advanced automated transmissions and develop an integrated powertrain and service network that supports our customers like never before.
"We will use our experience in partnerships and technological expertise to ensure success.”
The global joint venture will provide customers with industry-leading transmission technologies and solutions that deliver fuel efficiency, performance and uptime and will be delivered by the Cummins and Eaton global service and support networks.
The joint venture will design, assemble, sell and support all future medium-duty and heavy-duty automated transmissions for the commercial vehicle market.
Eaton's current medium-duty automated transmission, Procision, and next generation heavy-duty automated transmissions will be part of the venture.
On the European scene, German-based transmission specialists ZF launched their next generation heavy duty automated gearbox, the TraXon, in late 2016.
It debuted in Australia at the Brisbane Truck Show this year.
ZF's TraXon automated transmission is the first in the world to offer a modular design. It meets the commercial vehicle market's requirements for a versatile, flexible solution.
Its modular design enables the basic trans- mission to be combined with various setting-off and shift modules, making TraXon more economical in practice and giving manufacturers and operators the best possible flexibility for every application.
Its compact, robust design and the claimed highest transmission efficiency in its category combine to make TraXon deliver excellent cost effectiveness.
It is available with 12 or 16 forward gears and as direct drive or overdrive versions with up to four reverse gears, and is suitable for torque requirements up to 3400Nm.
The integrated ZF-Intarder auxiliary brake reduces the wear of the service brakes and increases safety. The wear-free Intarder provides additional safety since it reduces the load on the service brakes with up to 4000Nm of braking torque.
Recovered braking energy can be used to power large auxiliaries such as cooling systems.
TraXon also features ZF's innovative electronics including software, combining PreVision GPS as well as a rolling and 'rock- the-vehicle-free' function.
PreVision GPS is the combination of transmission and GPS which makes it possible to factor in uphill and downhill gradients in advance for the selection of gearshift points, providing an anticipatory GPS-based gearshifting strategy.
Transmissions will probably almost disappear from the driver's environment and become just another component 'down there' and the slick skills of gear changing will become historic behaviour.