US: GM backed Silicon Valley startup works on improving mileage image

The technology and auto industries have converged on numerous occasions in recent years and they look poised to continue the trend as the era of connected and autonomous cars approaches.

But the clash – on of titans sometimes and one of David vs. Goliath in other occasions – also has automakers investing into Silicon Valley startups for their own benefit. For example, a California venture that counts GM Ventures among its investors has come up with a new idea on how to get those extra miles from each gallon of gas. Called Tula Technology and with operations in San Jose and Plymouth, the company focuses on “advanced digital signal processing,” and in this instance lifts GM’s aready showcased ability to deactivate cylinders in big engines when they’re not needed. Essentially, a V8 powerplant can become a very frugal V4 when cruising, for example, in order to maximize fuel economy.

For example, General Motor’s Active Fuel Management and Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System both bring a fixed level of deactivation. But using Tula’s Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) system the cars can skip cutting a set number of cylinders. In the DSF system the number of deactivated cylinders is continuously varied to enhance fuel savings and operate over a wider range than current production systems can. Integrating Tula’s advanced digital signal processing with state of the art powertrain controls can render a software-based variable displacement engine system. And according to independent testing, DSF technology can up the fuel efficiency of a multi-cylinder engine by close to 15% – when compared to a standard, no cylinder deactivation, engine.