Automatic transmissions are no strangers to the world of automobiles. They provide the perfect comfort of selecting the right gear automatically with help of a system based on the speed of the vehicle. The whole act of engaging the clutch and then manually slotting the gear selector into the desired gear is completely eliminated. The most popular form of the automatic transmission is also the called the Hydra-matic transmission. The Hydra-matic transmission uses fluid coupling system in the place of friction engagement of the clutch in selecting the right gear. The Hydra-matic transmission is quite a convenient system for relaxed leisure-filled driving from point A to point B. However, the use of hydraulic fluid coupling means that the gear box plays catch up with the engine and gives a very sedate response if you are looking at quick acceleration and instant response as experienced in manual transmissions.
The PDK transmission system from Porsche stands for Porsche Doppel Kupplungs getriebe (Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe). The PDK is basically what Porsche like to call its Dual-Clutch transmission system. Though the Dual-Clutch transmission is not new to automobiles, the system on the Porsche seems to be a few notches ahead as compared to the rest. The PDK transmission system eliminates one of the major drawbacks of the traditional automatic transmission in the form of eliminating the delayed response or lag experienced in power delivery. The PDK system works instantly on engaging the gear on the push of the throttle. The PDK system was initially developed for racing applications, but its unmistakable benefits have seen it appear on production cars. The PDK system contrary to the traditional automatic transmission uses a clutch, well actually two clutches to be precise. There is one clutch which engages gears like the reverse, first, third, fifth and seventh, the second clutch engages gears second, fourth and sixth. So at any given point of time the car can instantly select one higher gear or one lower gear with the help of an electronically controlled actuator valve that actuates the correct clutch position. The presence of the physical clutch ensures instant response unlike having to wait for the transmission to match the engine rpm. The clutches are also immersed in oil and this highly reduces clutch wear and also helps in transfer of heat more effectively, leading to longer clutch life.
The PDK transmission system therefore functions as a well-coordinated orchestra, where the guitarist picks up exactly where the pianist left off in a smooth and instantaneous manner. In a way, the PDK system replicates the immediate response of a manual gearbox while retaining the convenience and comfort of an automatic transmission. Not to forget, its impressive durability and reliability makes it a very formidable piece of automobile technology. Considering how this whole technology was inspired by motorsports, it safe to say that its motorsport applications have given Porsche a considerable edge over the competition, though at this point the rest of the competition have already caught up with this technology.