Markets and Solutions TECHNOLOGY FIELDs

SPECIALIZATION IN FOUR FIELDS OF TECHNOLOGY

There is no doubt that the question of new forms of mobility is currently one of the most widely discussed topics worldwide. The automotive industry is experiencing a technological transformation accelerated by digitalization as well as unprecedented intensity of demand for more and better protection for the climate. This global trend is affecting all social classes and age groups. The focus of what people want today is that mobility be designed in such a way that it will release into the atmosphere considerably lower quantities of carbon dioxide in particular.

“ZF clearly supports the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. If we want to mitigate the consequences of climate change, we need to find and implement solutions that society can accept now,” says Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF. As a supplier of products for a wide range of mobility segments as well as for industrial technology – such as wind power – the company can make a significant contribution to this massive task.

To this end, the technology group is investing in the four technology fields that are particularly promising for the future, as they each make a major contribution to the mobility of tomorrow. These fields are automated driving, electromobility, vehicle motion control and integrated safety. ZF consistently relies on digitalization to create new opportunities for its products as well to improve its processes within the company.

TECHNOLOGY FIELDS Automated Driving

AUTONOMOUS MOBILITY
AT DIVERSE STAGES

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In the logistics industry, acquisition costs for autonomous systems pay off. Pictured: A ZF innovation prototype is also able to autonomously lift, shift and stack swapbodies.

The logistics industry and new mobility providers will be the first to drive autonomously. Owing to financial and legal concerns, however, private passenger cars on public roads will be automated to a lesser degree. ZF therefore offers suitable products for each context of use.

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FOCUS:
DIGITALIZATION

Software as a success factor

In the coming decade, software will prove decisive as a differentiating criterion within the automotive industry. This applies especially to systems that enable higher levels of automated driving. ZF is therefore working on software modules for numerous use cases to increase the functional scope and added value of its products. “The crucial factor of success is the ability and competence to provide and network all of the key components necessary for the various levels of semi-autonomous and autonomous driving, and thereby achieve a higher degree of safety and comfort,” explains Wolf-Henning Scheider, Chief Executive Officer of ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

It was a shocker: An annual average salary of $87,500 – nearly €79,000. That is the amount offered by retail giant Walmart to recruit truck drivers, which is 70 percent more than the standard wage. Why? Simply put, there is an acute lack of employees in the logistics industry. According to forecasts, there will be a shortage of approximately 100,000 truck drivers by 2022 in the United States – and the situation is comparable in Europe. German carriers alone currently have up to 60,000 vacancies.

An inconsistent legal framework

Autonomous systems can solve the global personnel bottleneck. For that reason, management at ZF has decided that highly automated driving at level 4 and above will initially prevail for commercial vehicles and people movers. “The higher system costs can be illustrated for these market segments in realistic business cases,” says Torsten Gollewski, Head of Autonomous Mobility Systems at ZF. In addition, highly automated vehicles are already allowed to drive in limited-access areas, such as depots or airports, where they are used to maneuver semi-trailers or taxi guests on the tarmac. In contrast, however, the legal framework permitting vehicles at level 3 or higher to operate normally on public roads has still not been established in all major markets. “In addition to the lack of legal authorization, the costs of highly automated driving systems are not in line with a cost-benefit ratio that would justify their use in private passenger cars,” stresses Torsten Gollewski.

ZF’s diversified strategy

Depending on the area of application, ZF is pursuing a unique strategy for its turnkey solutions for automated driving. While the focus is on level 4 and higher for commercial vehicles and people movers, the company is currently pursuing level 2+ for passenger cars. ZF defines level 2+ as an intelligent configuration of level 2 in a flexible and scalable package. “In the highest expansion stage, referred to as ZF coPILOT, we provide a level of quality for partially automated driving designated as level 2+, which would otherwise only be attainable through costly integration of level 3 functions,” says Torsten Gollewski.

For passenger cars, ZF is focusing on the expansion of semi-automated driving functions under the term Level 2+.
With the Automated Driving Shuttle innovation prototype (vehicle in front), ZF presented autonomous driving functions on level 4 and level 5.

All systems from a single source

ZF provides all requisite components for automated driving, as well as the necessary systems expertise – from sensor systems to data analysis and control electronics to actuating elements in the drive, brake and steering systems. This allows the technology company to provide its customers with everything from a single source – from cutting-edge advanced driver assistance systems to level 4 functionality. In addition to conventional automotive manufacturers, this knowledge is especially attractive to new automotive customers and mobility providers, who, due to a lack of in-house development resources, can rely on ZF as a partner for automated driving. For example, ZF received a delivery order in 2019 for a level 2+ system that will be used in a volume production passenger car from this year on. ZF was also commissioned by a commercial vehicle manufacturer to develop an autonomous driving system for a truck tailored to its specific needs.

Sensor technology: 3D data through radar and LIDAR

Sensor systems are the foundation of all automated functions used to monitor the outside surroundings and the vehicle interior. ZF is thus working to further develop cameras as well as radar and LIDAR sensors. Two new developments in particular are drawing attention. First, the Group announced that its first 3D full-range radar is already in the validation phase. With a total of 192 channels – 16 times as many as standard radar – it records several thousand data points per measuring cycle and, for the first time, also the angle of elevation; ZF’s full-range radar can thus “see upward.” The result is a detailed, spatial representation of the environment, which allows for much better recognition and classification of objects. Second, ZF is collaborating with a partner to develop solid-state LIDAR, which will enable a high-resolution, three-dimensional image of the surroundings to be captured within a radius of 250 meters, regardless of light and weather conditions.

Mainframe computer: ZF ProAI RoboThink sets standards

In order to interpret the enormous dataset generated by the sensors and to develop driving functions based on it, the vehicle requires enormous computing power, the amount of which depends on the particular degree of automation. ZF has therefore scaled the ProAI mainframe computer product family accordingly. While the ZF ProAI Basic reliably satisfies the requirements of the NCAP 2020 safety standard, the first-rate ProAI RoboThink equipped with artificial intelligence is currently the most powerful platform for autonomous driving, with up to 600 trillion arithmetic operations per second. This allows Mobility-as-a-Service applications to run on it – as required, e.g., for autonomous ride-hailing.

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“Integrating colleagues from different cultures into a team is crucial for the success of global ZF projects such as our Automated Driving Shuttle.”

Georg Mihatsch, Car Body Team Leader on the Automated Driving Shuttle innovation prototype.

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ZF acquires 2getthere

To expand its capabilities in the growing Mobility-as-a-Service market, ZF acquired a majority stake in 2getthere in March 2019. The Dutch company specializes in mobility services that use driverless shuttles, and has established autonomous people and cargo transportation systems that have already been used to travel more than 100 million kilometers. The systems operate globally in ports and airports. In Rotterdam’s Rivium Business Park alone, autonomous people movers from 2getthere have safely transported more than eight million passengers since 1999. In 2020, six new shuttles will be put into operation – and in 2021, they are to be put into service in mixed traffic for the first time.

14m

passengers have been transported autonomously by 2getthere from 1997 until today.

40+km/h

The 3rd generation vehicles are the only autonomous shuttles that travel at such high speeds.

99.8%

proven availability in daily operation, regardless of weather conditions.

TECHNOLOGY FIELDS ELECTROMOBILITY

DEMAND FOR AN OPEN-TECHNOLOGY APPROACH

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To school, to work and back? A modern plug-in hybrid can cover most everyday distances with just one battery charge.

ZF offers a wide range of electric and electrified drive solutions for various vehicle segments. Among these, a special focus is placed on hybrid drives, as they represent a technical solution for quickly bringing electromobility into daily life.

ZF designed the new generation of its 8-speed automatic transmission as a modular construction system for hybrids.
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The ZF EVplus concept vehicle: With one charge, the plug-in hybrid covers more than 100 kilometers purely electrically.

Purchase an electric car? Despite its undeniable advantages, the young family man Ernesto Cruz could not bring himself to do it. The hefty price was not the issue, but rather his reservations about poor range and the tedious search for charging stations. However, he could not get the idea off his mind. A few months later, rushing into the driveway with his son in tow like every weekday, he went through the morning routine with his hybrid electric vehicle: unplug the charging cable, get in, drive off. Almost silently they leave the residential area in suburban Barcelona – first to school, then into the city, and later in the afternoon to the shops with Ernesto’s wife Ines. Welcome to the world of “Next Generation Mobility.”

EVplus brings electromobility into everyday life

With the EVplus concept vehicle, ZF is presenting a solution for users like Ernesto Cruz: a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a reliable electric range considerably greater than 100 kilometers. This allows his family to use their hybrid almost exclusively in electric mode for all everyday errands. If a trip to visit relatives in Madrid is on the agenda, the internal combustion engine offers a proven alternative for the roughly 600-kilometer journey.

ZF electrifies everything

EVplus is just one example of how the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement can be achieved through solutions that will be accepted by society. Electric drives are a crucial factor when it comes to carbon-neutral mobility. “We do not prioritize a single form of electrification, but instead develop various drive types using a wide-ranging approach that embraces technology,” says Chief Executive Officer Wolf-Henning Scheider of ZF’s approach.

Whether hybrid or purely electric drivelines, e-bikes, passenger cars, trucks, buses, ferries, Formula E race cars or construction equipment, ZF engineers develop the optimal electric or electrified driveline for every possible need in a service portfolio ranging between 250 and 500,000 watts. Both standard vehicle manufacturers and new mobility providers benefit from the high degree of systems expertise in electric drives and transmission engineering.

Micromobility: e-cargo bicycles are gaining traction

Sachs Micro Mobility Solutions GmbH, a ZF joint venture, has unveiled its powerful Sachs RS motor for electrically assisted bicycles. With 110 newton meters, it delivers almost 50 percent more torque than standard performance motors and is suitable for both e-mountain bikes and e-cargo bicycles. E-cargo bicycles in particular could noticeably alleviate inner-city traffic congestion.

Passenger cars: consistent development of hybrid and electric drives

ZF’s new, fourth-generation 8HP automatic transmission was initially developed for plug-in hybrids, which served as the basis for developers in deriving variants for mild hybrids and for exclusive use with internal combustion engines. With 160 kilowatts (218 HP) of power, the peak electric output is 60 percent higher than the previous generation. Together with sufficient battery capacity, this creates a foundation for electromobility that is suitable for everyday use.

Electrification Significantly Reduces Emissions

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FOCUS:
DIGITALIZATION

Intelligently managing electric fleets

Intelligent power and charging management plays a particularly important role for electric vehicles operating as a fleet. That is because the available charging stations and resulting downtimes must be cleverly integrated into route planning, which crucially relies on real-time data analysis. Openmatics, ZF’s open connectivity platform, provides very good networking and functional options, making it particularly suitable for fleet management of electric vehicles. The functional scope of Openmatics is practically limitless. Together with vehicle manufacturers, ZF can implement functions such as predictive maintenance and over-the-air updates of component software.

130GW

of electricity can be produced by the wind turbine gearboxes delivered by ZF by the end of 2019. This is enough to supply around 1 million households per month with wind energy.

More than

150m

kilometers have been covered on a locally emission-free basis by buses equipped with the AxTrax AVE electric axle.

ZF’s electric 2-speed drive provides more range, better acceleration and a higher top speed.

Greater variability thanks to 2-speed drive for electric cars

Conventional electric drives are optimized either for high torque or high top speed. In mid-2019, ZF introduced a 2-speed drive that integrates the electric motor, transmission and power electronics into a single housing. Thanks to the 2-speed transmission, the drive provides both improved acceleration and a higher top speed, which simultaneously increases efficiency and range by up to five percent.

Commercial vehicles: electric drives for city buses are in demand

The CeTrax central drive and AxTrax AVE electric portal axle offer attractive electric drive solutions for delivery trucks and buses. ZF is the market leader for the electrification of buses in Europe, and orders for AxTrax AVE doubled this year compared to the previous year. Vehicles with portal axles featuring two powerful 125-kilowatt (170 HP) electric motors can now be found traveling the roads of Milan, Berlin and London as well as of many other municipalities and cities.

Electrified construction equipment and clean electricity from wind power

The advantages of electrification are particularly apparent in urban construction sites, as they produce no exhaust gas and keep noise emissions to a minimum. That relieves both construction workers and residents alike. ZF therefore showcased an electric vehicle drive system for off-road machinery, such as skid loaders, and an electric drum drive for cement trucks at BAUMA, Europe’s leading trade fair.

Electric drives need power from renewable sources in order to actually be zero-emission. With its gearboxes for wind turbines, ZF is making an ever-increasing contribution to the production of clean energy. The Group delivered the first wind turbine gearbox exactly 40 years ago, and today roughly 25 percent of all systems worldwide contain a gearbox from ZF.

Motorsports: Formula E testing ground

ZF first developed the complete, 250-kilowatt-strong (340 HP) electric driveline for the Formula E race car used by the Monegasque team Venturi for the 2018/2019 season. The vehicle was equipped with the first-ever ZF-built power electronics with high-performance modules made of silicon carbide. The Group is currently developing this semiconductor for series applications, and the resulting increase in efficiency with a constant battery capacity is expected to increase the vehicle range by 5 to 10 percent. In the 2019/20 season, ZF continues its commitment to Formula E as a partner of Mahindra Racing.

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The AxTrax AVE electric axle is also used on London city buses. It is an ideal solution for making inner-city public transit locally emission-free.
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“For a developer there is nothing better than when your idea materializes after only a year of development.”

Dr. Stephan Demmerer, Head of Advanced Engineering Electromobility, speaking about ZF’s Innovation Vehicle with electric 2-speed drive

TECHNOLOGY FIELDS Vehicle Motion Control 

THE FUTURE OF THE
CHASSIS IS CODE

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The chassis plays a major role in ensuring safety, comfort and efficiency of a vehicle.

Research on motion sickness is within ZF’s purview, and it incorporates the lessons learned into the development of future products for autonomous driving. With “Flying Carpet 2.0,” the technology company has already introduced a sophisticated chassis concept for the car of tomorrow.

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FOCUS:
DIGITALIZATION

cubiX – Combining Sensors and Actuators

The “Flying Carpet 2.0” chassis concept required ZF to find a way to intelligently and centrally control all active components involved. The company’s proprietary cubiX software held the key. The regulation algorithm networks and coordinates all chassis actuators. Since cubiX is based on a modular design, it can be individually adapted to the requirements of each automotive manufacturer and supports components from both ZF and third parties. With “Flying Carpet 2.0”, ZF has created a reference project that demonstrates what the software is capable of doing when the corresponding chassis components are available. cubiX optimizes vehicle handling at a critical point thanks to the centrally controlled interaction between the individual actuators. This not only takes vehicle control to a whole new level, but also increases safety, for instance, in the case of poor road conditions or emergencies.

40%

of all respondents in a study by Charité Berlin have suffered from motion sickness.

Like on a wild roller coaster ride, the car stops abruptly before quickly accelerating again to continue its swerving way. Despite being buckled in, the passenger in the back seat slides back and forth, his upper body jerked by the forceful movements of the car. He nevertheless keeps his eyes focused on the tablet PC in his hands, on which he has to accomplish various tasks during the ride. Four cameras as well as sensors attached to his body record the physical condition of the test subject, who also continuously evaluates if and how intensely he experiences nausea caused by the driving on a scale of 1 to 10.

Recognizing physical changes early on

Why this ordeal? This kind of unpleasant activity is how scientists gather new insights about the bodily reactions of car passengers in order to develop strategies for improving ride comfort in the future. After all, two out of every three passengers suffer from unease and dizziness to varying degrees. This phenomenon is known as motion sickness, or kinetosis in medical jargon. Because motion sickness has not yet been adequately researched, ZF is collaborating with neurotechnology scientists from Saarland University and the htw saar University of Applied Sciences to detect symptoms associated with motion sickness at an early stage.

A high-performance computer integrated into the Motion Sickness Research Vehicle, which has been specially outfitted by ZF, records a large amount of physiological measured values as well as camera images and measurement data related to the driving dynamics. The objective is to develop analysis algorithms that detect when occupants start to feel sick, in order to derive intelligent vehicle functions that counteract nausea or completely prevent it from occurring. To this end, humans are at the center of ZF’s research, as Florian Dauth explains. He oversees activities in the field of Human-Centered Vehicle Motion Control in Advanced Engineering at ZF. “We want to be able to detect motion sickness in individuals and develop countermeasures based on a passenger’s current condition.”

ZF and neurotechnology scientists from Saarland University use artificial intelligence to develop preventive driving styles that could prevent motion sickness.
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“The main challenge of this project was to combine the different specialist knowledge of multiple experts and develop a solution out of it.”

Mohamad Alayan, Project Manager, ZF Motion Sickness Research Vehicle

Adios, nausea: motion sickness during autonomous driving

Knowledge about motion sickness is especially relevant when it comes to highly automated or fully automated driving. Instead of a human driver, autonomous driving is controlled by a control system in the vehicle, enabling occupants to comfortably do other things during the ride, such as read a book or watch a movie. However, it is right at that moment when motion sickness usually occurs: when the driver is no longer focused on the road, resulting in perceptual inconsistencies. The balance organ in the inner ear senses a movement that is not confirmed by other sense organs such as the eyes. This is most likely to happen when a passenger is concentrating on a screen or a book.

In this situation, the human body reacts in the same way it would if it were poisoned. The new freedoms offered by autonomous mobility can therefore only be enjoyed if well-being is ensured during the drive.

Keeping driving dynamics under control with technology and system expertise

Technically, ZF is well positioned in this important field. The Group not only provides all the components for Vehicle Motion Control – such as brakes, steering system and chassis – but also the necessary systems expertise, which allows the driving dynamics of passenger cars and commercial vehicles to be perfectly coordinated. Through intelligent networking, the individual actuators are precisely controlled and used to make the motion of the car body as independent of driving conditions as possible.

Smooth sailing thanks to “Flying Carpet 2.0”

ZF has already demonstrated the potential of intelligent networking using a test vehicle. “With our ‘Flying Carpet 2.0’, we have developed a chassis concept that can completely control all longitudinal, transverse and vertical vehicle movements,” says Dr. Christoph Elbers, Vice President of Car Chassis Technology Development at ZF. This “flying carpet” considerably reduces unpleasant movements caused by potholes, road bumps or abrupt braking maneuvers. The results are a boon for comfort and safety.

Active damping system functions predictively

The technical foundation for this extraordinary chassis is the intelligent interaction between various active and semi-active systems that predictively iron out adverse movements of the vehicle body. Key to this is the sMOTION fully active damping system, which uses four actuators to adapt the suspension movements of each individual wheel according to the driving situation and road surface. For example, in contrast to conventional or semi-active dampers, the sMOTION actuators can maintain stability in the car body through movements that actively counteract road bumps.

The intelligently connected chassis of the future

But “Flying Carpet 2.0” can do even more. Its integrated Active Kinematics Control (AKC) rear axle steering provides more safety, dynamics and increased maneuverability. At low vehicle speeds, AKC greatly improves maneuverability by steering the rear axle in the opposite direction of the front wheels. If the vehicle is moving faster, the system steers the front and rear wheels in the same direction to provide greater directional stability and passenger comfort. Together with sMOTION, AKC prevents the rear end from swerving when driving quickly around curves. The concept also includes steer-by-wire power steering, which is currently still a prototype, and the active Integrated Brake Control (IBC) brake system. With its networked chassis components, the “Flying Carpet 2.0” concept impressively demonstrates ZF’s readiness to tackle the requirements of next-generation mobility.

Everything in a single system: With IBC, ZF combines all major brake functions in one controller.
The “Flying Carpet 2.0” concept from ZF makes it possible to completely control all longitudinal, transverse and vertical vehicle movements.

TECHNOLOGY FIELDS INTEGRATED SAFETY

BETTER PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE

ZF presented the world’s first pre-crash-triggered occupant protection system with an external side airbag.

Each year, some 1.35 million people die on the world’s roads. With its active and passive safety systems, ZF is making a major contribution to help reduce the number of traffic injuries and fatalities.

49

road deaths per million inhabitants make European roads by far the safest in the world.

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Safe in inner-city traffic: ZF’s turn assist system for trucks protects pedestrians and cyclists.

40

countries – primarily those with high per-capita income – have already implemented all seven of the vehicle safety standards recommended by the UN.

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres had a clear message when he addressed the public on the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims: “Immediate measures remain an absolute necessity,” the Portuguese leader said, admonishing the world community to do better in this area. “On this day of remembrance, I call on everyone to work together to overcome the global crisis of traffic safety,” the Secretary-General said on November 17, 2019. The underlying reason for this appeal is an alarming statistic: Every 24 seconds on average, someone loses their life in road traffic somewhere in the world.

Major safety hazards in poor countries

The World Health Organization’s “2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety” shows that road safety is particularly deficient in poor countries. While the group of countries with a low per-capita income accounts for only one percent of the global vehicle population, these countries account for 13 percent of annual fatalities in the global statistics. By way of comparison: Although 40 percent of all vehicles are on the road in high-income countries, the proportion of road deaths there is dramatically lower at just seven percent.

Goal: making vehicles safer around the world

There are many different reasons for the above-average number of road traffic deaths in poor countries. “Lack of laws, poor infrastructure, insufficient road safety education and lack of safety standards for vehicles,” explains Etienne Krug. He heads the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention for the World Health Organization (WHO). Consistent use of safety systems can help to improve this unsatisfactory situation. These systems include active and passive safety systems, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), front- and side-impact protection for occupants, and frontal protection for pedestrians.

Using technology to achieve “Vision Zero”

Advanced safety systems are now nearly always necessary for attaining vehicle test protocols and high consumer safety ratings in Europe and most mature markets. As a result, with an average of 49 road deaths per million inhabitants, European roads are the safest in the world. “Vision Zero” is the avowed long-term goal of the European Union (EU): By 2050, the number of people killed or seriously injured should be close to zero. To this end, the EU is pursuing the “Safe System Approach”. This approach provides for the development of a mobility system that can better compensate for human error. It pins a great deal of hope on advanced driver assistance systems, such as emergency brake assistants, intelligent speed limiters and blind spot monitors.

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Top: ZF demonstrates its innovative capacity even in passive safety systems such as airbags. Right: The ZF Integrated Safety Vehicle demonstrates how intuitive interior design can enhance safety, in particular during the transition from automated to manual driving.
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“In our Integrated Safety Vehicle technology demonstrator, we implement new concepts for safety and comfort.”

Sandra Wolter, Project Manager for the Integrated Safety Vehicle at ZF
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FOCUS:
DIGITALIZATION

Connecting Humans and Machines in the Best Possible Way

There is often a gap between the actual increase in safety and comfort due to automated driving and how progress in this area is perceived by the driver. The Safe Human Interaction Cockpit (SHI Cockpit) – jointly developed by ZF and vehicle interior specialist Faurecia – is designed to help bridge this gap. Switching driving responsibility between humans and vehicles as intuitively as possible helps enhance comfort, safety and confidence in these systems. By converting digital signals into haptic, optical or acoustic signals in the SHI Cockpit, advanced assistance systems and automated driving functions communicate with the driver more effectively. The seat also adjusts to the characteristics of each driver and to different situations dynamically. In general, the vehicle informs the driver about feedback control interventions in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner. Since the electronic assistants are combined in a way that makes sense, they are easy to adjust.

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ZF’s safety technology portfolio is the most comprehensive in the supplier industry.

ZF concept: identifying hazards early on

The ZF Integrated Safety concept goes one step further: The technology company develops intelligent systems with which vehicles are capable of identifying hazards and responding to them at ever earlier points in time. Using sensor technology and artificial intelligence, these systems can detect and assess traffic situations – and help prevent accidents or mitigate their consequences with active and passive safety technology. This concept of Integrated Safety helps protect not only the occupants of the vehicle but also other road users such as pedestrians or cyclists.

Intelligent assistants help to prevent accidents

Modern advanced driver assistance systems from ZF help to mitigate dangerous situations. One example is the “Automatic Emergency Braking” (AEB) system. As the sensors detect a hazard, the AEB system can automatically apply the brakes and bring the vehicle to a stop. If the sensors detect that a collision can no longer be avoided even with emergency braking, the Assisted Emergency Steering Control is designed to automatically steer the vehicle into a free lane or onto the hard shoulder.

Innovative airbags for even greater protection

Naturally, it’s not possible to prevent every accident, but innovative technology can help limit the consequences. For this reason, ZF is taking steps such as continuously expanding its airbag range. For example, ZF’s recently developed ProSIP pre-crash protection system can create an additional lateral crumple zone a few milliseconds before a collision using an airbag mounted on the outside of the vehicle. For occupants, this can reduce the severity of the consequences of accidents by up to 40 percent. This is made possible by linking the airbags with the vehicle’s environmental sensors and using algorithms to determine whether a crash is imminent and decide at lightning speed whether the airbag needs to deploy or not.

It’s not just conventional airbags such as driver or passenger airbags that are constantly subject to further development but also new types of airbags such as “far-side” airbags. They are designed to prevent the driver and front passenger from colliding and keep them from hitting their heads together after a side impact. Placed on the inward-facing side of the driver’s seat, this system also helps to protects the driver when a side impact occurs while they are sitting alone in the car: In this case, the far-side airbag prevents the upper body from being flung over the center console. Depending on the severity of the accident, the seat belt can only hold the pelvis in the seat.

With these and other developments, ZF is presenting vehicle manufacturers worldwide with a wide range of options for improving active and passive safety, thus bringing “Vision Zero” closer to reality for today’s drivers and passengers.