Responding to megatrends Driving forward together
TRW technologies are the ideal companion to the ZF portfolio for passenger cars. The supplier can now combine existing products to offer powerful, active systems from one single source in the future.
The company combining ZF and TRW is committed to supplying complete system solutions, explained ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer on the occasion of the acquisition. But what does that mean exactly? And to what extent can the competencies of these former separate enterprises be bundled together to leverage new product developments with added value for the customer? Three concrete examples demonstrate just how well this can succeed
Brake plus driveline
Regenerative braking is the energy recovery mechanism used to generate electric energy by braking. Hybrid and all-electric vehicles have featured such regenerative brakes since the very beginning. The vehicle is not slowed down by the service brakes on the wheel but by the electric motor instead, which can switch from motor to generator mode within seconds. The disadvantage: the braking effect produced – triggered by the generator’s drag torque – can only handle gentle braking maneuvers. When the driver steps harder on the brake pedal, the service brakes still have to engage. This division is often seamless in everyday driving situations. Jerky deceleration disturbs driving comfort every time the braking effect is “switched” from the electric motor to the service brake. What is needed is a seamless transition from one braking system to the other, known as “brake blending” – and in the future, ZF will be able to meet this demand by integrating brakes and driveline.
However, this is not simply a comfort feature. “We can optimize the entire energy management system when both the brakes and the electric motor come from the same source,” explains Dr. Harald Naunheimer, Head of Corporate Research and Development at ZF. As a result, hybrid and electric vehicles will also become more efficient. Another positive side effect which automotive manufacturers and end customers can look forward to: service brake wear is also reduced.
Steering plus brake plus chassis
Today, stability programs are a widespread standard in the industry. They prevent a vehicle from reaching its handling limits or even skidding by applying braking to wheels individually. By interlinking the steering system, brake, and active chassis system, ZF could even exceed these limits. A glance at the extended product portfolio reveals the possibilities available. Firstly, a combination of steering system, brake, and rear axle steering AKC (Active Kinematics Control) can stabilize driving through systematic steering and braking interventions and prevent lateral slippage of the vehicle. Secondly, the interconnection of steering system, active CDC (Continuous Damping Control), and ERC (Electric Roll Control) is a valuable asset. This prevents the vehicle body from rolling and pitching and ensures enhanced contact of the tires with the road while increasing safety reserves.
Ideal for assistance systems
Both of these viable driver-controlled systems not only increase vehicle safety, they also provide the ideal basis for emergency braking and collision avoidance assistance systems in which sensors and cameras from the ZF TRW product portfolio identify hazardous situations, and control electronics calculate driving maneuvers based on this information. “An advanced driver assistance system from one single source – in other words from us – allows us to perfectly match and coordinate all components,”according to Dr. Alois Seewald, Technical Director Automated Driving at ZF TRW.
EFFICIENCY Vehicles with very low fuel consumption and emissions are already on the road today. Increasing electrification will boost efficiency still further. Even more potential can be tapped if the networking between consumption-relevant systems in the vehicle is further improved and vehicles use information on their surroundings, i. e. the course of the road and the route.
SAFETY Sensors, high-resolution cameras, as well as software algorithms and on-board computing power make it possible: In the future, intelligent systems in the vehicle will be able to identify and interpret hazardous situations independently of the driver, and react rapidly and correctly by performing autonomous braking or evasive maneuvers. This will raise the safety standard in vehicles to a new level.
AUTOMATED DRIVING The technology already exists: Sensors precisely record what happens around the vehicle, cameras monitor the lane and even “read” traffic signs, a control unit in the car uses the information to calculate ideal driving maneuvers and autonomously actuates the steering system, brakes, and drive. This is the core element of automated driving that will characterize future road traffic.
Pictures: Getty Images, graphics: ZF