Munich. Under the motto "Next Generation Mobility. NOW. ", ZF is focusing on automated driving functions, along with other innovations, at the IAA 2021. With the new model of the supercomputer ZF ProAI, the company already offers the basis for autonomous driving up to Level 5. In addition, the Group has its sights set on new mobility offerings - such as autonomous shuttle systems as a supplement to public transport.
The core of new E/E vehicle architectures, such as those required for autonomous driving functions, are high-performance computers that can be used either as central computers or domain or zone ECUs. This is where ZF comes in with its ZF ProAI supercomputer, which the Group is presenting for the first time in Europe at the IAA.
“Our strategic goal is to provide technology for 'Next Generation Mobility',” explains Torsten Gollewski, Executive Vice President Autonomous Mobility Systems at ZF. “We already have all the necessary technologies for the vehicle and mobility concepts of tomorrow. Our ProAI covers an enormous breadth of possible application fields for every vehicle type and is suitable for all stages of automated or autonomous driving.”
ProAI is currently the most flexible and powerful high-performance computer for the automotive industry. With up to 66 percent more computing power, the ZF ProAI requires up to 70 percent less power than its predecessor. The AI capabilities of the ZF ProAI are optimized for Deep Learning and are an important basis for new and enhanced safety functions. The computer offers a GPU-driven 360° fusion of all available sensor data, including ambient measurement data from cameras, radars, LiDARs and audio patterns.
In addition, the new generation is even more compact and thus requires less installation space: the uniform platform measuring just 24 x 14 x 5 cm takes up less space than an iPad. In line with the requirements of the automotive industry, the high-tech interior is designed for maximum resilience and reliability even under extreme conditions and offers the latest security mechanisms against cyber threats. Thanks to its modular design, the supercomputer can be equipped with "system-on-chip" (SoC) variants, i.e. with processors from different manufacturers, depending on customer requirements. It can also be operated with software from ZF or from third-party suppliers. Standardized connectors and the possibility to connect several ZF ProAI units with each other make it flexible for packaging in nearly any type of vehicle.
ZF's high-performance computer offers flexible computing power of up to 1000 Tera-OPS – which corresponds to up to one quadrillion computing steps per second. ZF has already won the first major orders for the ZF ProAI in both the passenger car and commercial vehicle segments and will produce the central computer in large-scale production starting in 2024.
Autonomous shuttle systems
In addition to ZF ProAI, the Group already offers the necessary technologies for future autonomous vehicle and mobility concepts. For example, the Group is very active in the market for autonomous shuttle systems. ZF has acquired 100 percent of the Dutch company 2getthere, which has many years of experience with autonomous driving systems – as evidenced by 14 million passengers transported and over 100 million kilometres travelled autonomously. ZF is currently in the process of developing autonomous shuttles for the German cities of Friedrichshafen and Mannheim as part of the RABus project. At the Rivium Business Park near Rotterdam, where 2getthere's autonomous shuttles have been in operation for years, ZF is currently updating them with the latest version.
“A network of autonomous, electric shuttles available via app can usefully supplement existing public transport services in cities, but also better connect rural areas to cities,” says Torsten Gollewski.
This will make mobility more sustainable by helping to prevent congestion and emissions and improving people's quality of life.
More on the topic of autonomous shuttle systems and what role ZF will play in the future will be announced by the Group at ITS in October.