ZF speeds up development of commercial vehicle intelligence

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 06 Oct 2020


Building on its recent acquisition of WABCO, ZF is accelerating the development of its product and systems portfolio to enable intelligent commercial vehicles. According to the company, this  includes an industry-first autonomous trailer coupling function and energy-saving truck-trailer combination.

EU requirements for manufacturers to reduce new commercial vehicle carbon dioxide fleet emissions by 15 percent before 2025, and upto 30 percent by 2030, makes ZF a key partner to the commercial vehicle industry as demand for electric drive trains in buses and trucks are set to grow exponentially.

In addition, the EU requires new driver assistance systems approvals from 2022 and, from 2024, for new registrations to include advanced blind spot warning systems.

With the integration of WABCO’s advanced driver assistance and fuel-efficiency systems into its existing technology range, ZF is demonstrating the advantages of a complete and unique product portfolio for trucks, buses and trailer OEMS as well as fleets.

Fredrik Staedtler, head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Control Systems Division said, "WABCO is a perfect strategic match for ZF and has enabled us to accelerate our global leadership as a future-oriented, full-range technology supplier and systems integrator serving the commercial vehicle industry.”

ZF has also accelerated its successful commercial vehicle electrification program. ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric axle has been in daily operation for a number of years and, this year, the Group will start volume production of the CeTrax electric central drive. By 2023, a complete modular electric drive kit, with axle and central drives, will be established for buses and trucks of up to 44 tons. As with other ZF electric systems, it will be ‘open to technology’, meaning it can be combined with a battery or fuel cell, for example.

Staedtler added that, “With a clear aim of making mobility and transport cleaner, safer and efficient, we are mobilising commercial vehicle intelligence to support customers world-wide. Just four months after acquiring WABCO, we have made substantial progress in implementing new development projects bringing together our significant combined system competencies.”

Andreas Moser, Head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Technology Division elaborated that, “When it comes to transformative solutions for the next generation of commercial vehicles, we are at full speed. As a result, we can highlight new innovations such as the fuel-saving truck-trailer prototype , designed for energy-efficient driving. It combines a lightweight design and aerodynamics with optimized chassis space offering major benefits for future electrification strategies.”

ZF can now also extend its electrification expertise to trailers with the eTrailer. This semitrailer, with integrated electric motor, can convert the conventional truck it is coupled with into a hybrid vehicle that consumes up to 16 percent less fuel. In addition, the company claims that with the e-trailer, traction and acceleration will improve while noise level and brake wear will decrease.

ZF is also taking a future-forward approach to enhance commercial vehicle safety. The industry’s first fully automated coupling assistant which enables trucks to find their allocated trailer autonomously and engage automatically is one of their first offerings in this segment. Another innovation, Advanced Reversing Assist, a further enhanced reversing assist function for trucks was also revealed. Both solutions help to reduce the risk of accidents, offer depots increased operating safety and efficiency while reducing the risk of time delays and repair costs that are typically associated with maneuvering damage.

For automated vehicle operations, advanced vehicle motion control based on WABCO’s ADOPTTM (Autonomous Driving Open Technology) software platform increases safety, efficiency and operational productivity. The ADOPT framework applies ZF’s expertise in Autonomous Driving and Artificial Intelligence to the commercial vehicle world, helping to simplify and accelerate the development of Automated Driving applications for Virtual Drivers (Autonomous Driving Artificial Intelligence). It is specifically designed to support automated driving modes by providing instant, precise maneuvering and stable vehicle control in response to "real world" automated driving.

ZF is also reinforcing its capabilities in digitalisation and vehicle connectivity to better serve the commercial vehicle fleets sector and further optimise fleet efficiency and safety.