BEST, Netherlands—As automakers look to comply with global emissions regulations, innovations like eight-speed automatic and continuously variable transmissions are being widely applied as band-aid solutions to buy time.
But the intricate inner-workings of these mechanical marvels mean potential headaches as they make their way to market in everything from commuter cars to pickup trucks as manufacturers look to reduce emissions and increase fuel economy across their respective vehicle lineups.
Enter the gearless gearbox.
That’s right—a transmission without transmission parts.
Developed and patented by four Dutch inventors, the Controlled Rotation System (CRS) transmission does away with gear wheels and provides a maintenance-free gearbox that doesn’t require lubrication and improves fuel efficiency because it lacks friction between gears.
In place of gears, the CRS uses two discs powered by a belt.
And with the help of a hydraulic oil pump and so-called “slide units,” the diameter of the discs is increased or decreased for acceleration and deceleration, acting as traditional transmission gears in the process.
“It’s easier, more compact and cheaper to assemble than traditional transmissions,” the designers said in a joint statement. “It saves energy, offers more gear possibilities and can be used in all kinds of applications.”
The designers said the CRS is most effective when used in electric cars because the electric engine can run in a constant rpm, and further energy can be saved by linking each wheel to a separate transmission.
Originally developed for bicycles, the first prototype for the automotive industry measures 30 x 22 x 18 centimetres—tiny compared to traditional bulky gearboxes.
According to the designers, the new transmission can be applied in automobiles, motorcycles, ships, windmills or any other machine that relies on gear wheels.