How Automated Manual Transmission Control Revolutionized Truck Driving
Pawel Porczynski, Vice President Suspension, Powertrain and Axle Solutions
Braking, clutching, shifting gears, accelerating, braking… and so on. Back in the ‘70s, truck drivers repeated this sequence countless times a day when stuck in a traffic jam. This radically changed in 1985 when WABCO together with Daimler introduced the first ever modular automated manual transmission (AMT) control technology for commercial vehicles. This innovation proved to be a great relief for truck drivers worldwide as the system liberated the driver from frequent manual gear changes and thus reduces stress and fatigue on the road. Thanks to the automatic shifting of gears and control of clutch actuation, AMT radically improved truck driving from an efficiency as well as from a safety perspective. Drivers could now dedicate their full attention to steering, with two hands on the steering wheel, as well as road and traffic conditions, resulting in improved vehicle control and much safer operations. Additionally, the invention also helped close performance gaps between highly skilled and less experienced drivers.
So what is AMT?
Through customized hard- and software modules WABCO’s AMT automates the gear shifting and clutch operation of a transmission taking into account the driver’s operation, engine torque, vehicle load and road inclination. This is performed via an Electronic Control Unit, a Gear Control Unit and a Clutch Actuator. Combining the advantages of both manual and automatic transmissions, AMT increases driving comfort and safety. Driving commercial vehicles with AMT – from light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses and coaches to small off-highway vehicles – is nowadays popular and well-appreciated.
WABCO remains the market leader for AMT
Today, with 5 million AMT systems sold, we are celebrating more than 30 years of pioneering AMT technology. All our employees worldwide that have dedicated their hard work and collaboration to the development and technical advancement of the AMT systems past and present – including product team members, product engineers and our value stream teams based in Germany, Poland, China and India – have contributed to making commercial vehicle driving as safe and comfortable as it is now. The WABCO Transmission Systems team can be very proud of their position as the global market leader of AMT technology for the last three decades, I too am extremely proud of my team.
Even now WABCO remains the only supplier of the modular AMT solution known as OptiDrive™. The system enables the customized automation of a wide range of manual gearboxes based on patented technology, meaning that it can turn any manual transmission into an AMT with little development required from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Looking back at the milestones of the past years, it has provided true added value for many of the world’s leading commercial vehicle brands.
AMT supports the environment
What is more, AMT also supports WABCO’s overall mission to improve vehicle efficiency, helping the transport industry in its daily struggle to become leaner, greener and safer. By automatically selecting the proper gear to make the engine operate in the most economical zone as much as possible, the technology contributes to the optimal economic efficiency and lowest fuel consumption. In total it achieves fuel savings of up to five percent compared to manual transmissions.
The product evolution of AMT is a prime example of how WABCO is mobilizing vehicle intelligence through its differentiating operating systems and its employees’ continuous attempt to pioneer innovations and set key technology milestones for the commercial vehicle industry. Let’s not forget, it is also the trust our customers and industry partners place in our capabilities that enables us to turn our visions into reality. All that is left to say is: THANK YOU!