Handling the clutch today still demands a certain experience from the driver and does not exclude misuse. As a result, a number of attempts have been made to automate clutch operation. The figure shows the functional principle of an automatic clutch. The clutch itself is built conventionally. It is driven by an electronic system over a control motor. This electronic system records the engine and transmission speeds using corresponding pickups. It recognizes when it is shifted into which gear and closes the clutch more or less quickly depending on the driving style. Shifting gears takes place manually. Such automatic clutches are finding wider application in trucks.
Apart from speed conversion, the clutch also plays an important role in the absorption of noise and vibration from the engine and drivetrain. Chapter 3.7 deals with this in more detail.