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ZF scaling up technology for electric and automated Mobility NOW

New multi-domain version of ZF ProAI high-performance computer enables OEMs to run domain-based functions on separate boards on just one central computer

At CES 2023, global technology company ZF Group announces major progress in its work to scale up game-changing technologies that fulfill the company’s promise of Next Generation Mobility NOW. Key developments across the board aim to accelerate the global ramp-up of electric mobility, automated transportation and software-defined vehicles.

“ZF delivers innovative technologies that contribute to sustainable mobility and help decarbonize the world,” said Dr. Holger Klein, CEO of ZF Group. “Today, we have everything to support our customers with holistic vehicle systems based on advanced high-performance controllers, intelligent sensors, smart actuators, connectivity and cloud solutions, and cutting-edge software and functions. And as a full-range provider of autonomous transport systems, we can go one step further by offering the entire ecosystem needed to implement a clean, safe and market-driven public transport solution.”

ZF ProAI high-performance computer pushes boundaries even further with multi-domain version

The new multi-domain capable edition of the ZF ProAI high-performance computer means that one device can support domain-based ADAS, infotainment or chassis functions on separate boards. This includes system-on-chip configurations from multiple suppliers. It is even capable of hosting multiple operating systems in parallel, e.g., QNX for ADAS functions and Android Auto for infotainment. Another major advantage is that software stacks already developed and implemented on specific microprocessors can be carried over into a multi-domain structure.

To accommodate this, ZF has boosted the overall computing power to achieve up to 1,500 TOPS, a 50% increase from the previous high-end version. At the same time, the new multi-domain edition ZF ProAI offers extremely good energy efficiency of 5 TOPS per watt while retaining a compact package measuring 12x6x2 inches. The multi-domain ZF ProAI addresses the company’s expectation that 30-40% of new vehicle platforms will be domain-based as early as 2025.

The ZF ProAI portfolio of high-performance computers is fully industrialized and market ready, with 14 million units already ordered and further growth expected. Volume supply is scheduled to start in 2024. The impending series-production of these powerful supercomputers is proof of ZF’s strategy and ability to develop and scale up crucial building blocks of future vehicle concepts in a short time.

ZF Heat Belt contact heating device aims to conserve energy

In another world premiere at CES 2023, ZF unveils its Heat Belt, a smart idea designed to help reduce the energy consumed heating vehicle passenger cabins. The contact heating device warms the front of the body via woven-in wires. This achieves a maximum surface temp of 40 °C / 104 °F using just 70 watts of energy. Installation is straightforward with no need to adjust belt retractors and pretensioners. Combining the ZF Heat Belt with other contact heaters like seat or steering wheel heating, allows drivers to set the cabin heating lower – which in turn can extend the range of an electric vehicle in cold conditions by up to 15%.

World premiere of next-generation Level 4 shuttle delivers highly modular solution for mixed operating environments

ZF’s next-generation shuttle unveiled at CES 2023 will be capable of SAE Level 4 1) autonomous driving and thus, where the local legislative framework permits, is capable to maneuver in mixed traffic without a safety steward. With this, ZF is enabling the operation of autonomous transport systems in densely populated areas with no need for segregated or dedicated shuttle lanes and making an important contribution to decarbonization.

Integrated into ZF’s comprehensive autonomous driving system with the ZF ProAI at its core is the Virtual Driver software stack. It consists of two major parts, the performance path and the safety path. Together, both enable an operation of Level 4 shuttles or other transportation carriers in a safe and reliable way. The safety path monitors comprehensive situations under safety aspects, defines virtual guardrails for the performance path, and intervenes if necessary to help mitigate critical situations. Meanwhile, the performance path enables smooth driving in complex scenarios. ZF developed this in partnership with Oxbotica, a global leader in autonomous vehicle software for businesses.

The new Level 4 capable shuttle vehicle for mixed traffic also features a fully modular interior design, enabling it to be tailored to specific customer needs. It joins the growing ZF portfolio alongside the current shuttle model, which is already part of the ZF ATS ecosystem for segregated or dedicated lanes. The latest version of this shuttle has recently seen its operational launch at Rivium business park in Rotterdam / Netherlands.

1) SAE J3016 defines six levels of automation for road vehicle driving operations (Level 0 to Level 5). Level 4 states: The vehicle can autonomously handle all traffic situations under certain conditions. No driver is required.

Partnership with Beep to deliver autonomous transport systems (ATS) ecosystems featuring new shuttle generation for the U.S. market

As a leader in the provision of complete ATS ecosystems, ZF has signed an agreement with U.S. mobility services provider Beep to develop and deploy Level 4 ATS for customer projects in the U.S. The agreement includes planning volumes of several thousand Level 4 shuttle vehicles for deployment in the U.S.

Speaking at the ZF press conference at CES 2023, CEO of Beep, Mr. Joe Moye said: “We share a common vision for mobility with ZF, and we are pleased to partner with the company to offer their next shuttle generation in the U.S. market as part of our turnkey mobility network solutions. This vehicle will help expand use cases and meet growing customer demand as we continue to pursue our vision of extending mobility equity and reducing carbon emissions with safe, efficient shared autonomous transportation.”

Scale-up of all key components for E2E software-based functions and integrated systems

In addition to the more than two million electric motors produced since 2008, that contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions, the rapid scale-up of smart components and integrated hardware/software systems is crucial to realizing future vehicle concepts quickly. ZF is witnessing strong sales growth in its smart sensors and actuators with volume contracts to launch in all major regions this year including China. ZF’s innovative camera systems, such as the Smart Camera 4.8, have already surpassed sales of 50 million units, with 10 million produced in 2022 alone.

Similarly, sales of smart actuators for fully automated by-wire vehicle control are also accelerating. Volume contracts with multiple car manufacturers will launch in all major regions in the next several years.

As part of a holistic approach, ZF is helping its customers leverage cloud-based information and data sharing with its ZF ProConnect high-performance connectivity platform. As an advanced connectivity module with modular hardware and customizable software, it features the latest in-vehicle and external communication technology for virtually any kind of vehicle.

ZF also offers standalone software products that OEMs can integrate into their individual systems architectures. This product category complements the full lineup of intelligent sensors, smart actuators, connectivity and computing modules, and sees an equally dynamic growth. One example is ZF cubiX vehicle motion control, which has entered series production with a major vehicle manufacturer in 2022. The smart control software interlinks and coordinates the active and semi-active actuators of the chassis with a control algorithm, thus enabling new functions that enhance comfort, dynamic handling and safety.


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