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GM Patents a Smart Stop/Start System to Reduce Drivers' Annoyance
Car and Driver Mihir Maddireddy,Car and Driver 13 hours ago

Photo credit: fstop123 - Getty Images

From Car and Driver
  • General Motors has patented a system that would use GPS as part of a car's stop/start system, making it more intelligent about when it shuts off the engine.
  • The system would have situational awareness to be able to tell the difference between a car stopped in heavy interstate traffic and one stopped at a stop sign and adjust the stop/start system's behavior accordingly.
  • This patent has the potential to alleviate annoyance in cars equipped with the fuel-saving technology.
If you own a car that was made within approximately the past five years and is equipped with an automatic transmission, chances are high that you have a vehicle equipped with a stop/start system. The chance that you find this system annoying at times is also quite high; many drivers complain about how intrusive the system can be, cutting out power at every stoplight and annoying the occupants inside the vehicle. We spotted a patent dated October 29, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by General Motors, with a clever solution to curb some of the complaints people have about the system. It uses location devices and cameras to analyze the car's surroundings to determine if the system should be activated.
Photo credit: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

A stop/start system is a clever fuel-saving device that, as you might have deduced from the name, starts and stops the engine. When the engine gets up to the proper temperature, it becomes more fuel-efficient to shut the engine off and restart it than leave it idling over a period of time when the car is stopped, like at a stoplight. For city drivers who experience a lot of stop-and-go traffic, this fuel-saving measure can save gas and a small but measurable amount of money, but it might also make you lose your patience. (Also, critically, it nets the automaker improved EPA fuel-economy ratings.) Having the engine shudder off and on and off and on is undeniably annoying, especially when it happens every block. Most stop/start systems are designed to activate when the car is at a complete stop, and the driver's foot is on the brake pedal with the transmission in drive. As long as certain conditions are met—sufficient battery charge and the engine up to temperature—the engine will shut off and start again when the driver's foot is removed from the brake pedal.
It's great in concept, but in practice, even the slightest amount of movement of the driver's foot from the brake pedal can start the engine again. As a result, many drivers choose to turn off their automatic stop/start feature, but others must suffer without the capability to turn off the system as some cars—many GM models, in fact—lack the feature to do so.
GM's patent shows that the automaker believes the use of GPS, cameras, and machine learning can make the stop/start feature less intrusive and situationally smarter. It uses existing automatic stop/start system technology but adds another layer of artificial intelligence programming to the equation. The car's onboard computer will use GPS to determine the situation: Is the car in a parking lot trying to park, or in a traffic jam on the interstate? If the car is moving along the interstate during rush hour, the cameras will be able to inform the system that traffic volume is high, and GPS will be able to determine that the location is on a major interstate. From this information, along with the speed of the car, the system will make a choice on if and when to engage the automatic stop/start system—for example, preventing an undesirable parking-lot stop/start. Since the patent calls for machine learning, it will learn from the various situations it encounters, based on how often the car moves and how often the system is activated in each location at a particular time with certain surroundings. It's similar in this regard to the new C8 Corvette's smart front-axle lift system, which can be programmed to automatically lift in certain locations based on driver input and GPS tracking.
C/D tests dozens of cars each week, and many have stop/start systems. A large percentage of those systems just aren't that great, prompting many staff members to turn them off. Until GM's patent becomes a reality and makes its way to the mass market, we'll probably be hitting that button. Here's another advantage to manual-transmission cars, which are far less likely to have automatic stop/start systems.
But a better, smarter system that has the potential to save more fuel and convince more people to keep it enabled is a great idea.
 

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It sounds way overcomplicated to me. I don't think GPS is neccessary.

All they really needed was a 3-5 second delay to shut off and the bypass button for when it's not wanted. Now they at least have a bypass button on most newer models.

Maybe an algorithm to tell that it's in slow rolling highway traffic to reduce excessive cycling.
 

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Having a 48V-powered BSG really seems to be the smoothest way to do it, like the Ram has on the 3.6L and eTorque Hemi - the motor spins the engine, via the belt, and thus moves the vehicle as the engine is restarting, eliminating any lag or shudder.

The big thing would be not restarting when I shift into park - but that's because people don't pay attention and would just get out of the vehicle without shutting it off because they think it already is off.
 

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Having a 48V-powered BSG really seems to be the smoothest way to do it, like the Ram has on the 3.6L and eTorque Hemi - the motor spins the engine, via the belt, and thus moves the vehicle as the engine is restarting, eliminating any lag or shudder.

The big thing would be not restarting when I shift into park - but that's because people don't pay attention and would just get out of the vehicle without shutting it off because they think it already is off.
The shuddering is a bit annoying. It could probably be further improved.

I found the restart and take off generally pretty good on my Cruze. I would think the gas engine would be smoother than my diesel at restart too.

The restart shifting to park would be greatly reduced with a 3-5 second delay to stop engine. This is my biggest reason for bypassing the feature many annoying unnecessary 1 second stop and starts.
 

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GM has had one of the better start-stop implementations for a while now - any experience I've had with it (over the course of multiple loaners - Cruzes, Malibus, Equinoxes) has all been very positive - extremely smooth.

As I'd drive them for more than a day, I usually could turn the vehicle off quick enough after shifting to park that the engine wouldn't have time to restart - but sometimes it would fire back up if I was distracted prior to hitting the off button.

When driving those, I get really pissed off when people stop, and then move forward, and generally will not move. My engine is off, moving forward turns it back on, and I no longer am saving fuel. I do the same thing in my Camaro, because it is a stick and I have no interest in constantly creeping forward because some dipshit couldn't stop in the spot they wanted to end up in.
 

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All they really needed was a 3-5 second delay to shut off and the bypass button for when it's not wanted. Now they at least have a bypass button on most newer models.
I agree, those two simple things would give the driver complete control. Unfortunately my 2017 LT didn’t have either one so I got the “Smart AS/S Module” that shuts off the system. I reviewed it last year on another thread. It has been a real pleasure driving this past year with the system shut off.
 

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GPS.. and if it is cloudy or you are in a long tunnel? Nah, won't worth the money. I would add a customized delay setting for shut off and let the driver to adjust it in a range of.. let's say 2 to 15 seconds maximum, something similar with the rain sensor. In this time range I thing everybody could find a setting that he likes!
 

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Start/Stop is a kludge and no one gets it right in a pure ICE vehicle. In hybrids it works because the electric motors handle restarting the ICE once the car is moving.
 

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It sounds way overcomplicated to me. I don't think GPS is neccessary.
Keep in mind this is just a patent. What they finally decide to implement could be a lot simpler.

The concept of giving the car "situational awareness" is a good one. You may even equip it with "predictive starting", so it can start at the same time the driver decides to move rather than waiting for the driver's inputs.
 

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Keep in mind this is just a patent. What they finally decide to implement could be a lot simpler.

The concept of giving the car "situational awareness" is a good one. You may even equip it with "predictive starting", so it can start at the same time the driver decides to move rather than waiting for the driver's inputs.
My guess is this is just the beginning point leading to fully automated cars. They could easily use sensors already used for adaptive cruise control to anticipate engine start as well.
 
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