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Leading Modular Transmission Automation Solution for Commercial Vehicles: WABCO OptiDrive™

The Indian commercial vehicles (CV) industry is experiencing a transformation both in terms of technology and product offerings. The legislative landscape is fast evolving in India with a strong focus on safety and efficiency norms, which will make the commercial vehicle fleets of the future safer and more efficient. 

Indian customers have been steadily increasing their demands towards greater quality, safer, efficient and more reliable products of appropriate technologies at reasonable costs. In addition, fleets are increasingly focusing on technologies to improve fuel efficiency, enhance driver and passenger comfort, increase driver productivity and reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  

One of the key areas of focus is the transmission technology wherein automatic transmission (AT) and automated manual transmission (AMT) find their way into CV applications. The BS6 applications also necessitate the shift for the usage of higher horse power engines and higher torque transmissions. This transition, coupled with the current experience of the AMT system, provides ample opportunities to further penetrate the market with advanced technologies like Automated Manual Transmission and enhance the consumer experiences.

About WABCO OptiDrive™

WABCO OptiDrive is the only pneumatic AMT solution for the Indian commercial vehicle industry that is designed to benefit fleets by improving fuel efficiency, enhancing driver comfort, increasing driver productivity and reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  

WABCO OptiDrive is an award-winning modular transmission automation technology that can be easily adapted to a wide range of existing manual gearboxes and provides an alternate cost effective and reliable solution for CVs. It combines comfort and ease-of-use of an automatic transmission with the efficiency of a manual transmission, providing drivers with the best of both technologies..

The system releases the driver from frequent clutch and shift operations, thereby helping to reduce stress and fatigue, letting drivers concentrate on traffic conditions. Optimized gear shifting further improves driver effectiveness across all levels of experience.

Having pioneered the CV industry’s first AMT system in 1986 in Europe, ZF Group’s  Commercial Vehicle Control Systems Division, is distinguishably the leading global supplier of AMT for commercial vehicles across the world, selling over 5 million AMTs since its launch. 

OptiDrive continues to gain acceptance globally among makers of trucks, buses and transmissions in North America, Europe, China, and India, amongst other parts of the world.

How does OptiDrive function

OptiDrive automatically engages the vehicle’s clutch and gear shift actuation. Gear shifting is done by electro-pneumatic actuators receiving control commands from the on board computer. AMT performs gear shifting, taking inputs such as engine torque, vehicle load and road gradient. It optimizes clutch and gear actuations, reducing wear of mechanical components and thereby lowering Total Cost of Ownership.

System features

OptiDrive is a complete system that includes AMT hardware and shift software. Its patented technology enables fully autonomous gear shifting and clutching. OptiDrive easily adapts to a wide range of manual gearboxes through an innovative modular platform. It minimizes space requirements at the gearbox and is available for 5-speed up to 18-speed applications.  

The system has been designed for constant and synchromesh gearboxes and offers a wide range of driver functions. It frees drivers from shifting gears and depressing the clutch, hence helping them to give full attention to the road. It also interacts with other vehicle control systems like ABS & ESC to improve safety

OptiDrive also provides additional operating modes (economy, power & custom), making it suitable for different conditions and situations. Switching between the modes is done through the shift lever unit.

Modular design, easy to adapt across multiple platforms

A single product platform has been developed to cater to the needs of multiple driveline and vehicle platforms of various OEMs. Considering customer requirements, where time and cost are big factors, it reduces  the development time required for vehicle and transmission makers to apply OptiDrive to their platforms by approximately 40% compared to Integrated AMT technology used by global OEMs. Instead of designing the entire hardware around AMT integration, OptiDrive only requires the existing hardware to be adapted in minor ways. 

On the software side, the base software for shifting, clutch control, and gear detection is a common modular software that is adapted to the individual vehicle and not developed from  scratch. To ensure gear optimization, OptiDrive has its own proprietary software algorithm, which is developed to ensure improved performance in terms of drivability and fuel economy. This algorithm helps with selecting the best gear and clutch position in all driving situations.

Retrofit solutions

OptiDrive can be fitted in all released vehicles as a retro-fitment and provides better fuel efficiency and driver comfort. Furthermore, OptiDrive significantly reduces mechanical wear, lowers maintenance costs and vehicle downtime. It simplifies vehicle handling and thus enables comfortable, smooth and safe driving like an automatic transmission.

Increased driver efficiency through simpler vehicle handling

Reduction in driver employment costs, health issues related costs and better productivity are also some of the key factors that have a bearing on the faster payback. AMT relieves the drivers from frequent clutching and gear shifting maneuvers, thereby reducing their stress and fatigue levels. This ensures better driver alertness leading to safety of passengers, cargo and vehicles. This also allows drivers with varied skilled levels to drive with greater confidence ensuring that vehicle performance is at the peak leading to the benefits on all fronts.

Greater fuel efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership

The benefits of using OptiDrive include fuel savings, reduction in maintenance costs and increased safety. Optimized gear shifting reduces emissions and contributes to the cause of a cleaner environment. AMT increases fuel economy up to 5% for trucks and buses in congested city traffic and on long hauls alike. In addition to that, AMT solutions reduce wear on clutch and transmission components, lowering maintenance costs over the vehicle’s lifetime. Optimised gear-shifting also reduces emissions, resulting in an environmentally cleaner footprint for fleets.

Technical features and components
- Available as standardized, complete system including hardware and software to allow automation of manual transmissions
- Easily adapts to a wide range of manual gearboxes through innovative modularity
- Patented technology enables fully autonomous gear shifting and clutching
- Software algorithm provides optimized real-time gear shift strategy
- Allows for easy calibration of main AMT functions to a wide range of applications
- Available for 5-speed up to 18-speed applications
- Designed for constant and synchro-mesh gearboxes
- Seamlessly integrates with CV-industry’s hybrid drives
- Interacts with other control systems like ABS or ESC to improve vehicle safety Shift Lever Unit (SLU)
- Provides intuitive system control and operation
- Allows to switch between manual and automatic gear-shifting mode 
- Enables choice between different operating modes

Electronic Control Unit (ECU)
- Available as stand-alone cabin-mounted variant or integrated into SLU          
- Hosts software algorithm, which provides optimized real-time gear shift strategy to select gears based on incoming information

Gear Shift Actuator 
- Executes up- and down shifting procedures
- Variants available for constant- and synchro-mesh gearboxes 

Pneumatic Clutch Actuator (PCA)
- Opens and closes clutch during gear-shift process
- Available as 3” and 4.5” variant

Range and Split Cylinder
- Additional system components
- Enable transmission automation from 9-speed to 18-speed applications

Value to fleets
- Achieves up to 5% fuel savings compared to manual transmission
- Reduces mechanical wear lowering maintenance costs and vehicle downtime
- Minimizes driver fatigue by releasing driver from clutch and shift operations
- Simplified vehicle handling aids driver recruitment and retention
- Improves driver effectiveness across all levels of experience
- Enables comfortable, smoother and safer driving to ensure cargo delivery on time

Value to Bus and Truck OEMs​
- Applies to different  vehicle platforms  light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles
- System’s flexibility shortens time-to-market by up to 40%
- Reduces development cost by more than 80% compared to a customized AMT solution
- Offers unique calibration tool myOptiDrive™ to tailor system performance to specific customer preferences
- Experienced application engineers support customers from concept to serial production
- Leaves an environmentally cleaner footprint


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