ZF debuts level 2+ automated driving system

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 12 Apr 2019

ZF today announced the debut of the ZF coPILOT, an intelligent advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), which it says enable enhanced safety and driving comfort. The system leverages the power of AI and is equipped with a comprehensive sensor set, which enables vehicles to perform various automated driving functions, especially on freeways.

In addition, the ZF coPILOT can be operated with voice commands and is designed to recognise traffic conditions, sense vehicle handling and monitor the driver, helping to pre-empt hazardous situations through active control intervention. The technology is powered by the ZF ProAI central computer and the Nvidia Drive platform, and is designed for volume production which will be available from 2021.

Earlier in January 2019, ZF and Nvidia had announced that ZF ProAI is the first system to run Nvidia's Drive software at CES 2019, and ZF coPILOT debuts at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition. Together, the partners are presenting a 'Level 2+' system which is said to lead towards enhanced safety and driving comfort opportunities in passenger cars.
Torsten Gollewski, head of Autonomous Mobility Solutions at ZF, said: “The ZF coPILOT is equipped with AI, a 360-degree sensor set, ZF ProAI central computer and Nvidia's Drive platform, thus offering driving and safety functions that surpass the performance of a regular Level 2 system for semi-automated driving. This enables us to achieve an improved quality in semi-automated driving.”

The solution will be showcased using ZF coPILOT demonstration vehicle, which will be presented for the first time at Auto Shanghai to display the functional scope and relative comfort and safety benefits for drivers: The vehicle can perform specific driving manoeuvres autonomously, for instance entering and leaving highways under the appropriate conditions. For more relaxed highway driving, the ZF coPILOT combines an advanced cruise control with active steering assistance and lane keeping assist. In addition, it can proactively change lanes, pass, and merge. Furthermore, the system can continuously analyse vehicle surroundings, recognising pedestrians, oncoming traffic, and intersections.

The system is also equipped with sensors and functions that monitor the driver and can trigger warnings in the event of potentially dangerous situations. In addition to intelligent route guidance including 'MyRoute' – a map function that recognises repeat routes – the ZF coPILOT is also equipped with voice recognition so that the driver can conveniently enable, operate and disable driver assistance functions via voice commands, if they wish to drive manually.

In terms of sensors, the demonstration vehicle consists of a front radar, four corner radars, and a total of eight cameras. Two cameras are directed forwards and one backwards, two are integrated into each side mirror and one monitors the driver. In order to evaluate the massive amount of data collected in real-time by the comprehensive sensor set, high-performance processing power is required. Which the company says will utilise the ZF ProAI Gen2 central computer that powers ZF coPILOT, which utilises Nvidia's Drive Xavier processor at its core, which can integrate and completely control the pre-trained algorithms for all driver assistance functions. The system is flexible, scalable, and seamlessly updateable. If desired, automotive manufacturers can add additional features and functions of their own or those developed by ZF.

With a product family comprising four models from Level 0 to Level 5, ZF ProAI covers the entire automotive operating range. The top model, ZF ProAI RoboThink, features up to 600 trillion operations per second (600 teraOPS), making it the most powerful AI-enabled supercomputer currently available in the mobility industry.

The technology company says since highly automated driving at SAE Level 3 is not permitted in many countries, the ZF coPILOT is based on semi-automated driving at SAE Level 2, which requires the driver to continuously monitor traffic conditions. But the enhanced Level 2+ technologies from ZF and Nvidia provide reliable and convenient assistance, performing like a 'co-pilot' to support the driver.

“We are convinced that an extended Level 2+ system like the ZF coPILOT is very attractive for manufacturers.  Due to its wide range of functions, it offers consumers significant added value in terms of safety and driving comfort – and at a competitive price," added Gollewski.