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GM patented a machine-learning-powered auto stop/start system

The system would use GPS, cameras and other sensor data to determine when it's OK to shut the engine off.

Chevrolet Blazer 2019
Many GM products won't even let you turn auto stop/start on or off, so a patent improving the system is a good thing.
Juan Garzón/CNET

Automatic start/stop systems have been pretty common on cars for a few years thanks to their ability to save a surprising amount of fuel and the reduction in emissions that come with that. 

Some of these systems are really well developed and integrated so that you hardly notice them -- our long-term Kia Stinger was a good example of this -- but other systems are jerky and annoying, so people just turn them off.

But what if there was a better way of integrating auto stop/start so that the system only worked when it was appropriate so that you're less likely to be bothered by it? General Motors wondered the same thing, and now it seems its found a solution to that problem: GPS.

According to a report published Tuesday by Car & Driver, GM secured a patent for a smart stop/start system that uses your car's GPS system (among others) to determine if traffic conditions and topography are conducive to having the engine shut off. 

GM's system would leverage GPS data, along with images from vehicle cameras and other sensor data to train a neural network that will allow your car to know when you're at a four-way stop sign, or trying to get a coveted parking spot at Costco on a Saturday or stuck in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.

When you pair this patent's tech with the ever-increasing popularity of mild-hybrid drivetrains in modern vehicles, auto stop/start ceases to be a herky-jerky annoyance that happens whenever you're stopped with your foot on the brake and becomes effectively transparent.

It's not clear when, if ever, General Motors plans to actually integrate this technology into production vehicles, but we sincerely hope it's sooner rather than later.

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