Friedrichshafen/Paris. Just a few months after signing a cooperation agreement at the beginning of May 2017, ZF and its partner Faurecia are unveiling the initial results of their collaboration as well as future plans. By introducing their new seat concept at Faurecia’s and ZF’s booths during IAA 2017, the two companies are shaping the trend toward a versatile, comfortable, and most importantly, a safer passenger car interior. A long-term road map will define additional milestones regarding integrated safety for future passenger car interiors. The goal of the cooperation between ZF and Faurecia is “Cockpit 2025” which will help support the transition from assisted and automated driving to fully autonomous driving at Levels 3, 4 and higher.
When ZF and Faurecia announced their cooperation in May 2017, the networked ecosystems from Silicon Valley served as a model. The initial results of their four-month cooperation demonstrate the impressive speed and agility from both suppliers at the 2017 IAA.. A jointly developed seat concept demonstrates how passive safety can be designed for the transition phase from assisted to automated driving.
The seat supports three different driver positions: the driving position itself, a relaxed position and a working position in which the seat is turned slightly toward the middle of the cabin. It can be tilted a total of 25 degrees backward and up to 10 degrees toward the interior. To achieve these positions, the back of the seat is divided into two parts. The attachment point of the driver's seat belt is integrated into the seat and is designed to help meet changing conditions in the event of a crash. When transitioning between positions, the variable belt connection point near the shoulder can automatically adapt to the position of the reclined driver. ZF’s Active Control Retractor ACR 8 system can additionally send haptic signals to the driver whereby vibrations can redirect the driver's attention to what is happening on the road. The belt system can therefore also be integrated into the vehicle’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) which is important for assistance systems and automated driving functions where the driver is informed to retake control of the vehicle.
ZF has also developed and installed new side airbags: The ZF Advanced Far Side Airbag has been integrated into the seat in addition to a standard side airbag on the outside. It can help to protect the driver’s head and neck in case of a crash, especially if the impact is on the far side of the driver. An airbag integrated into the back of the driver’s seat helps to protect passengers in the back seat.
“We have been able to introduce an initial prototype just four months after starting our collaboration. The fact that our two companies were able to bring together their respective areas of expertise in such a short period of time is also a strong signal for the long-term direction of our cooperation,” explains Torsten Gollewski, responsible for Advanced Engineering at ZF. David Degrange, Vice President of the Cockpit of the future project at Faurecia comments: “It took only 4 months – revealing the common approach and culture between the two groups - to build this unique and exclusive safety cocoon concept. A speed record in the automotive industry and once again a demonstration of the shared commitment to propose added value technology to our customers.”
The car interior in the autonomous driving era
The new seat concept was able to be realized as both ZF and Faurecia rapidly established a common understanding of integrated safety, and as a result have developed medium and long-term goals – in addition to the first specific concept seat. Under the term “Cockpit 2025”, the companies aim to shape the transformation of the car interior from assisted to automated driving. To this end, the partners have defined several action areas, namely, comfort and safety functions that affect the seat and the vehicle chassis; cockpit elements such as the display, steering wheel and passenger protection. Other action fields include interior monitoring and the interaction between systems in the critical pre-crash phase in order to help increase occupant protection in the last milliseconds when a crash is unavoidable.
“These action areas cover a wide spectrum of the requirements of current and future driving functions, but especially automated and fully autonomous driving functions,” says Gollewski. “All of these elements are heavily dependent on one another, which is why a shared systems approach between ZF and Faurecia will help create better solutions for future occupant safety than a standalone approach.”
Using a road map, the partners are continuing to solidify their approaches and solutions for the coming years. For example, in 2022, they will introduce and offer a forward-looking vehicle interior that supports both highly automated as well as automated driving (Level 3).