At CES, the huge, annual, electronics show in Las Vegas, ZF announced a host of technological advances, including a confirmation that the German automotive systems supplier will be providing an “international commercial vehicle manufacturer” sometime in the 2024-2025 timeframe.
Depending on the application, the market demands different autonomous solutions for different types of vehicles, Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF, told attendees at a press briefing during the how. For the time being, Scheider said, intelligent assistance functions, so-called Level 2+ systems, have the greatest potential for passenger cars. In contrast, fully automated systems of level 4 and higher will likely become established in commercial vehicles and urban passenger transport. He noted that these trends are being proven out by new orders which ZF has received from car and commercial vehicle manufacturers.
"In the case of commercial vehicles, we are already seeing strong demand for systems that make fully automated driving to Level 4 and higher possible," Scheider said. “While the use of fully automated passenger cars in public transport still depends on regulations, commercial vehicles can already operate in highly automated modes within closed areas or defined lanes. In addition, driverless transport at depots or in urban passenger transport offers savings potential that leads to a rapid amortization of system costs.”
In addition, Scheider said, based on the ZF ProAI supercomputer, ZF is currently developing the electronic control unit (ECU) for a Level 4 system for an international commercial vehicle manufacturer. The market launch is scheduled for in either 2024 or 2025.
ZF is also setting the course for faster and more comprehensive software development, Scheider announced.
Together with Microsoft, ZF plans to adapt the speed and quality of its processes, methods, and solutions in software engineering to the level of major IT companies. This change will enable ZF to use its global resources more efficiently and to more effectively respond to customer needs. In its cooperation with Microsoft, ZF uses Azure Cloud services and developer tools as well as Microsoft's experience in agile software development. In the future, ZF will also be a supplier of pure software products in the automotive market.
"The mobility industry continues to undergo major changes, Scheider said. “This is the reason why ZF, too, must continue to change, develop and drive transformation: We have to be able to convince our customers with innovations that offer them – and ultimately the end consumers – added value. And in the future, this will increasingly include software products and services.”