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Representing a new generation of fully automated transmissions, UltraShift Plus transmissions feature automated clutch technology and intelligent shift selection software that employs grade sensing, weight computation, and driver throttle commands to make intelligent shift decisions for safe and efficient vehicle performance. Photo: Eaton Corp.

Eaton engineers developed computer programs for AutoShift transmissions that do exactly what those drivers do: float the gears. Instead of a shift lever, they use actuators. They leave the clutch for starting and stopping, and have the computer do the rest. Computers don't get it right most of the time. They get it right all the time.

To leave drivers in control when they want to take control, “Hold” (now “Manual”) and “Low” positions enable the driver to tell the computer when to shift up or down, stay in gear, or allow only down-shifts. If a shift cannot be completed, the computer won't even start the shift. No more getting hung out in neutral.

In the early 2000s, Eaton went a step further by letting the computer actuate the clutch. With the resulting UltraShift family of clutchless, two-pedal transmissions, shifting became as easy as driving a car. But there were still many unaddressed safety and control needs, such as creep and hill control.

THE NEW GENERATION

Last year, Eaton introduced UltraShift Plus, a family of task-oriented transmissions with three vocation-specific variations designed to increase safety and control. All of the new transmissions feature automated clutch technology and software that uses grade sensing, weight computation, and throttle position/movement sensing.

Three models are designed for various construction, off-road, and heavy-haul operations. Each has its own gear ratios and software designed for improved fuel economy and better low-speed control. These new application-specific transmissions include:

The Vocational Construction Series (VCS), with an overall ratio of 20:1. Its deep reduction gearing and multiple high-speed reverse meet the specific needs required for highway construction work and general dump operations requiring extended reverse operation. It features 10 forward and three reverse speeds.

The Vocational Multipurpose Series (VMS), with a huge overall ratio of 36:1, plus 11 forward and three reverse speeds. It has an ultra-low gear reduction to enhance low-speed maneuverability. It is designed for concrete curb pouring and other applications where creeping is required.

The Vocational Extreme Performance (VXP), with an overall ratio of 20:1, plus 18 forward and four reverse speeds. It provides users with maximum power capacity without any vehicle weight limits. It has excellent gradeability features for the toughest of operating environments.

These features offer excellent benefits for fleet managers. As with fully automatic transmissions, there is no need for drivers to learn special shifting techniques. With weight savings up to 300 pounds, as compared with torque-converter-equipped automatics, payload can be increased. Maximum torque ranges to 2,250 pound-feet, which is much higher than full automatics.

The Eaton automated transmissions minimize driveline shocks common with standard transmissions, so vehicle maintenance is reduced.