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Dynamic firing decisions for individual cylinders of gasoline engine


GM Ventures is optimistic that its 2012 equity investment in Silicon Valley-based startup Tula Technology, Inc. will result in a new engine fuel economy technology that could be deployed in future gasoline engine-powered General Motors’ vehicles.

Tula’s Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) technology integrates advanced digital signal processing with sophisticated powertrain controls to create a software-based approach to variable displacement engines. The result makes the most of vehicle fuel economy across a wide range of driving conditions.

Instead of relying on fixed cylinder deactivation or switching between fixed patterns like current multi-cylinder engines, Tula’s DSF technology continuously makes dynamic firing decisions on an individual cylinder basis to deliver the required engine torque for all vehicle speeds and loads while avoiding vibration.

Independent testing commissioned by Tula shows that the application of DSF technology can improve fuel efficiency in a multi-cylinder engine (4/6/8 cylinders) by 15 percent when compared to a vehicle equipped with an engine that does not have cylinder deactivation.

Tula's Dynamic Skip Fire technology

“This technology holds the potential to improve fuel economy on select GM vehicles without degrading power capability when it’s required,” said Jon Lauckner, GM chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures. “This joint effort combines software expertise from Silicon Valley with powertrain expertise from General Motors.”

Co-investors in Tula with GM Ventures include Sequoia Capital, Sigma Partners and Khosla Ventures. Since its founding in mid-2010, GM Ventures’ international portfolio includes investments in more than 20 startup companies.

“We’ve worked closely with GM during this exciting stage of DSF development, and they’ve provided essential financial support while allowing us to run our business with full autonomy,” said R. Scott Bailey, president and CEO of Tula Technology. “Our goal is the same as GM; we both innovate to make the lives of people better.”

Source: GM
Romain’s opinion:
I’m convinced that crossing technology areas like combustion and Software computing is a way to innovate. Unfortunately, the automotive world is quite conservative and companies don’t often hire non-automotive profiles. I’m thinking about process engineers for optimizing fluid flows in engines, statistics analysts for exploiting customer usage of the products and so on. Do you think that automotive recruiters should diversify the targeted profiles or on the contrary choose specialized people and auto experts?

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