Friedrichshafen/Aachen. Autonomous electromobility will make traffic in metropolitan areas cleaner, safer and more efficient. To promote the establishment of these systems and to inspire new technological innovations, ZF has envisaged a joint venture with the company e.GO Mobile AG through its subsidiary Zukunft Ventures. The goals of the new joint venture e.GO Moove, headquartered in Aachen, are to develop, produce and sell autonomous people and cargo movers. The first prototype was recently presented on the campus of RWTH Aachen University.
"Autonomous, connected and thus highly flexible e-shuttle vehicles will play a significant role in urban and metropolitan areas of the future as safe, comfortable, efficient and environmentally-friendly modes of transport," explains Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. "These vehicles bring us one important step closer toward our Vision Zero."
ZF is a leading automotive supplier of electrified drivelines, which are an important building block in ZF's commitment to this envisaged joint venture company e.GO Moove, because they are characterized by durability, economy and a high level of efficiency. In addition, ZF will also make its ADAS, chassis and sensor fusion technologies available to this planned joint venture. The scalable supercomputing control box ZF ProAI will play a central role as an integrated vehicle system that can be updated in the cloud. The control box is based on artificial intelligence algorithms for vehicle-to-infrastructure applications and is capable of learning. It can communicate with other vehicles and its surrounding environment, and, in the form of swarm intelligence, make vehicle fleets safer and more efficient. ZF, e.Go Mobile AG and Nvidia are working together to develop and test autonomous driving functions for the e.GO Mover.
"New vehicle concepts such as electrically powered people and cargo movers must be developed to be highly iterative and, at the same time, be inexpensively produced," explains Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh, founder and CEO of e.Go Mobile AG. His company has installed a largely connected Industry 4.0 infrastructure on the campus of RWTH Aachen University that can be used to efficiently build homologation-capable vehicles and develop them for volume production.
"Cooperating with a strong partner like ZF enables us to quickly offer cities and the drivers of new mobility test fleets suitable for vehicle registration because we combine our start-up dynamism with ZF's industrialization expertise and market access," he adds. The envisaged joint venture will be headquartered in Aachen. There, engineers as well as production and sales experts have already started working on organizing a rapid market launch.
ZF sees a great deal of future potential worldwide for electric and autonomous vehicles to be used to transport both people and cargo. The ZF Future Study, published in November 2016, has already predicted enormous growth, mainly in the city center logistics industry by 2030.
The envisaged joint venture e.GO Moove will be a good addition to this market. As Dr. Stefan Sommer states, "Together with e.GO, we are combining the power of innovation, speed and global production know-how in the mobility industry with first-class sales and service expertise. The e.GO people and cargo movers will demonstrate our expertise in intelligent mechanical systems as well as autonomous driving – and thereby in the mobility solutions of the future."
ZF is therefore continuing to establish cooperative agreements with external partners and other experts in the field, which is why it founded Zukunft Ventures GmbH in September 2016. Headquartered in Friedrichshafen, this new company has a clear mission, namely to invest in companies that are actively developing technologies that are relevant for ZF. And from ZF, these smaller, but already well-established companies receive support from a strong partner. In return, ZF is expanding its portfolio to include sustainable technologies that will keep it one step ahead of the competition.