ZF can make Vehiclessee, think, and act

The “SEE – THINK – ACT” triad is the leading principle for the company itself and also a unique selling point for its technological innovations. ZF applies its comprehensive know-how to come up with not only individual solutions for megatrends like mobility, safety, efficiency and autonomous driving, but also to design comprehensive and intelligent systems.

Thanks to its great expertise, ZF combines environmental sensors, such as camera and radar ("see") with central electronic control units in the vehicle (“think”). Intelligent mechatronics in the drive, chassis and steering system then convert the insights gained into actions (“act”).


A reliable and detailed environmental recognition system is the first step toward any automated driving system. To be able to react reasonably, the system must first recognize the route, lane markings and other road users.

Using its sensor expertise, ZF has endowed the vehicle with the eyes it needs: Highly modern cameras as well as radar and lidar sensors recognize the environment and work together to give the vehicle the most complete picture possible of its surroundings.

THINK - with intelligent electronic control units

ZF’s electronic control units form the high-performance computer center and the switching center in the automated drive system, in other words, the brain.

They are responsible for collecting and analyzing the sensor signals and then merging them into a three-dimensional 360° image. The control units then use this data to quickly calculate the optimal reaction to the given situation and decide how the vehicle can best act on it. Is the distance to the car in front too close? Is it enough to choke the drive or are brakes needed?

The software forwards the corresponding commands to the mechatronic actuators.

ACT - with numerous mechatronic actuators

There is not much point in identifying a dangerous situation and thinking about how to avoid it if you cannot act on it.

In addition to eyes and a brain, ZF also provides the necessary muscles for automated drive systems: mechatronic actuators like brakes, steering and chassis systems respond in fractions of a second to the current traffic situation and precisely carry out the solution calculated by the control unit.

That’s how vehicles stay in the lane independently, reduce speed optimally before a curve, maneuver into tight parking places and even, as shown by the Evasive Maneuver Assist (EMA) in the ZF Innovation Truck 2016, independently swerve around a sudden obstacle and brake.

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