Friedrichshafen/Madrid. ZF is further strengthening its position as a major technology supplier for the commercial vehicle industry, and presenting itself at the FIAA 2017 as a global, integrated system provider that is excellently equipped for the future. ZF products can enable commercial vehicles to see, think and act, providing in this way key technologies for autonomous driving features. This includes the control platform ZF ProAI, developed in cooperation with Nvidia, which makes artificial intelligence available to the mobility industry. The most recent example is ZF's acquisition of a stake in Astyx Communication & Sensors GmbH, who specialize in radars. This will further enhance the Group's competence in object and environment recognition.
"Our products tackle the big trends automation, networking, safety and electrification," says ZF's CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer. "Our innovative focus is to provide fully-integrated intelligent mechatronic systems that substantially contribute to a mobile world without emissions and accidents." The "SEE – THINK – ACT" triad sums up ZF's claim to be a one-stop supplier of future-oriented technologies: "With our technological focus, we are able to cover all major aspects of autonomous driving and let vehicles see, think and act – this is our unique selling proposition," explained Sommer. A further important point is the improvement of efficiency. Be it through innovative transmissions for conventional vehicles or electro-mobile solutions, ZF is pushing forward the electrification of the commercial vehicle driveline. Technologies for hybrid or all-electric drives are ready for production. These cover all fields of application and market needs in the bus sector.
Expanding its competencies
ZF is strategically expanding its competencies to widen its portfolio of fully-integrated intelligent systems. These investments also follow the "SEE – THINK – ACT" slogan. Since the acquisition of the U.S. company TRW in 2015, the company's range of mechatronic systems has significantly increased. ZF will strategically extend its actuator portfolio in the future as well. ZF is also advancing the areas of sensor technology and environment recognition, as well as software and digitalization expertise. In March, the company acquired a 45 percent stake in the Munich radar experts Astyx.
Together with Nvidia, ZF is bringing artificial intelligence to the mobility industry. The platform ZF ProAI, developed during this cooperation, provides vehicles with deep-learning technologies that enable them to "understand" their environment by processing and interpreting sensor and camera data. The start of volume production of the artificial intelligence control unit is scheduled for 2018. Also in March, ZF opened its new Tech Center in India. 1,000 engineers in Hyderabad will initially support ZF's global engineering network; by 2020, this number is expected to rise to 2,500. The emphasis will be on developing software to enhance the intelligence of electronic control units in vehicles.
Electromobility with growth perspectives
The concept of "Vision Zero" – or a mobile world without emissions and accidents – requires solutions that improve fuel efficiency or even replace internal combustion engines with electric motors. 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," says ZF's CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer. 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.