GM Patents Clutch By Wire. Removes Last Bit of Manual Trans Fun?

A new patent from GM could mean your next clutch pedal is a digital one.

The clutch is a part that doesn’t get much innovation. Sure there might be more discs, or different materials, but the basic clutch mechanism has been the same since pretty much forever.

This patent from General Motors might change that. It’s for a clutch by wire system that would make your clutch pedal an electronic connection instead of the mechanical one we’ve known and loved all these years

There are two big types of clutches these days. Cable and hydraulic. The first uses a cable like a throttle cable that’s attached to the pedal and the clutch. Push the pedal, the cable pulls, and there you go. Hydraulic ones work like your brakes and use pressure on fluid to do the heavy lifting. Both have their pluses and drawbacks.

The new idea would replace the cable and hydraulic systems with an electric motor. A signal comes from the pedal, tells the clutch motor (really the slave cylinder, but you get the point) what to do. Just like the throttle setup in your modern car.

There are some big pluses to this. Like not having to run the current systems through the car. That would make running clutch operating mechanisms to a certain mystical mid-engined Corvette a lot easier. It could also allow for an automated manual that is a whole lot more involving than any flappy paddle auto. Toss it into auto in traffic and just move the shifter yourself? Sure, why not? Then get back to three-pedal business when things get fun.

Of course the downside would be a complete lack of clutch feel. It’s tough to replicate the feel of finding the clutch bite point through a PlayStation controller pedal shaker. Though since many modern cars have as much clutch feel as my fingers at -40, it might not be a big issue.

[source: Jalopnik]