Friedrichshafen/Hanover. ZF is further strengthening its position as a major technology supplier for the commercial vehicle industry by providing key technology for autonomous driving. With these competencies, ZF products can enable commercial vehicles to see, think and act. This is being clearly demonstrated using the ZF Innovation Truck 2016, which features state-of-the-art advanced driver assist systems – including the world's first brake assist and assisted emergency steering control systems for heavy commercial vehicles.
The company's International Motor Show slogan "See – Think – Act" boldly captures ZF's strategy. The acquisition of the U.S. company TRW in 2015 was an important milestone in the expansion of ZF's capabilities in the fields of sensor technology, control electronics and mechatronic systems. It continues to expand its portfolio with further milestone investments through shareholdings and acquisitions. For example, ZF recently acquired a stake in the lidar system experts Ibeo and the software company doubleSlash. Moreover, ZF is continuing to develop the electrification of the commercial vehicle driveline. Production-ready technology for hybrid and all-electric drives covers all application fields and fully satisfies market needs.
"We are aligning our products with the major trends of automation, networking, safety and electrification," said ZF's CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer at ZF's press conference at IAA Commercial Vehicles 2016. "Our innovative focus will provide fully-integrated, intelligent mechatronic systems which substantially contribute to a safe and emission-free mobile world." The "See – Think – Act" slogan highlights how ZF is positioned as a one-stop supplier of future-oriented technologies: "With our technological focus, we are able to cover all major aspects of autonomous driving and enable vehicles to see, think and act – this is our unique selling proposition," explained Sommer.
ZF Innovation Truck 2016
“See, Think and Act” is clearly brought to life at the International Motor Show through the company's stand highlight – the ZF Innovation Truck 2016. For this concept vehicle, ZF transferred technologies from passenger cars to heavy commercial vehicle applications. The ZF Innovation Truck can reliably recognize its surroundings in three dimensions using sensor fusion, process the data and execute the best course of action using advanced mechanical systems – including electrified drive and steering systems. One of its three assistance functions is the Evasive Maneuver Assist (EMA), developed by ZF in a joint project with WABCO. EMA automatically steers semi-trailers around hazards safely, helping to prevent rear-end collisions. The Highway Driving Assist (HDA) system actively keeps the ZF Innovation Truck in its lane at an appropriately safe distance from the vehicle in front. The Truck's third function, SafeRange, offers benefits at the terminal. This maneuvering assistant independently approaches the required loading dock, preventing accidents and downtime caused by dangerous maneuvers.
Expanding its competencies
ZF is strategically growing its competencies in order to expand its portfolio of such fully-integrated intelligent systems. These investments are in line with the "See – Think – Act" philosophy. Since the acquisition of the U.S. company TRW in 2015, the company's range of mechatronic systems has significantly increased and ZF will continue to strategically expand its range of actuators.
Additionally, ZF has announced plans to construct a technology center in Hyderabad, India. From 2020, a total of 2,500 engineers will reinforce ZF's global engineering network with an emphasis on software development to enhance the intelligence of vehicle electronic control units. With a 40 percent stake, ZF is joining forces with the software company doubleSlash. The new partner, already a strategic ZF supplier, will strengthen the company's capabilities in the field of vehicle networks.
Finally, in August this year, ZF acquired a 40 percent stake in sensor experts Ibeo. Together with ZF, the market leader in both lidar system technology and environmental recognition software will develop a new generation of lidar sensors, helping to take vehicle safety to the next level.
Electromobility with growth perspectives
The concept of "Vision Zero" – or a mobile world without emissions and accidents – also requires solutions that can improve fuel efficiency or potentially can even replace internal combustion engines with electric motors. To support this goal, ZF integrated its e-mobility activities into a separate division at the start of 2016.
According to recent estimates, the market for hybrid or all-electric vehicles is forecast to grow by a factor of seven to ten by 2025. "We will benefit from this growth and shape the market. Our unique systems competence regarding the integration of chassis, driveline and electronics is the perfect prerequisite," said ZF's CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer at the International Motor Show's press conference. In relation to commercial vehicles, ZF is well positioned to address this growth with its complete product portfolio of hybrid and all-electric drive solutions for city buses, coaches as well as heavy and light trucks.