ZF makes confident step towards autonomous vehicles

01-1_ZF_See_Think_Act_AutonomouslyHaving acquired driving technology safety company TRW in late 2014, ZF is attending the CES technology show in Las Vegas this week to highlight their renewed commitment to full-autonomous driving.

ZF TRW already has a strong product portfolio of sensors, intelligent control units and actuators and the company believes they are in a unique position to develop more autonomous driving technologies.

An area of focus for ZF at the consumer technology show will be driver monitoring. On any full or partially automated journey there will come a point when a passenger may have to take control of the vehicle when prompted. To avoid accidents this switchover needs to be absolutely seamless, so driver monitoring is a critical part of the development process – and one where ZF has a solid understanding.

At the CES consumer technology show, which takes place between the 6th and 9th of January, ZF will demonstrate the multi-faceted interaction between human and machine and showcase some models of this relationship.

Autonomous cars, trucks and coaches

ZF CEO Dr Stefan Sommer is confident about his company’s role in the future of autonomous technology across vehicle types.

He said: “In the coming decade, our technologies will decisively shape the path towards autonomous driving.”

Thanks to powerful sensors, complex electronic control units, and mechatronic systems, ZF’s technology is already enabling vehicles to see, think, and act autonomously.

In a press release on the company’s website, Sommer says that they will continue developing these functions and suggests that the company will continue applying these technologies beyond automobiles.

He said: “Our goal is to enable automated driving functions across all vehicle segments. Only through high market penetration can we make a real difference to overall road safety.”

The future of automation

Full vehicle automation will not take place overnight. The final technology will rely on the successful development of a number of important processes.

Automated driving functions are based on active safety systems – safety functions like an emergency brake or emergency steering that can be deployed to help protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians if an accident is imminent.

The next step up is considering safety on the motorway, with a number of partial and fully automated drive functions set to limit the number of accidents on some of our most dangerous roads.


ZF Concept Cockpit

The most difficult challenge for those who wish to make full vehicle automation a reality is developing systems that will work in highly complicated city traffic environments.

ZF believes that the initial potential of future urban mobility lies in intelligent networking, namely, interconnecting the chassis, driveline, and driver assist systems, as demonstrated in its electrically powered, cloud-connected Advanced Urban Vehicle that features partially automated functionality.

This prototype vehicle represents ZF’s new competencies following its acquisition of TRW.