Researchers at DaimlerChrysler are developing an automatic driving correction system that they like to call a "predictive powertrain;" DC claims the technology could reduce engine fuel consumption by as much as 10 per cent, writes Jonathan Thomson.

The German carmaker is planning to install "a range of sensors" into vehicles that can examine a driver's individual style as well as road and traffic conditions. This data would be used to make the engine work at "optimum efficiency". For example a car would "know" in advance that it was about to go downhill or slow down for a bend in the road. It would then prepare itself to use mild hybrid technology to convert into electricity any resulting release of kinetic energy. If on-board sensors then detected a tailback ahead, this energy could be used to recharge the car's battery, allowing smoother stopping and starting, lowering fuel consumption.

However, the plan is not to "patronise the driver" by forcing him or her to slow down early or cruise downhill, said a company statement. Instead DaimlerChrysler claimed its predictive powertrain would work "intelligently" according to the driver's "individual decision-making". The only driver interaction being considered is some form of optimum gearshift prompt in cars with manual transmission.

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