Jobs with a future Connected to the Cloud

Volker Vogel is working on connecting vehicles to the Internet. The software engineer developed a Cloud-based driver-assist system for ZF’s concept car, the highly acclaimed Advanced Urban Vehicle.

“People tend to brake too late,” states Volker Vogel. The software engineer is standing in front of the Advanced Urban Vehicle (which attracted considerable attention when it made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015), illustrating the benefits of ZF’s PreVision Cloud Assist driver-assist system with the help of a tablet. “Braking normally wastes energy. What we’re now doing is reducing torque as the vehicle approaches a bend, causing it to slow down without applying mechanical brakes. This saves energy and also makes the vehicle safer,” explains Vogel.

Working on the big global issues

Volker Vogel in the Advanced Urban Vehicle: this is the third ZF innovation prototype which he has helped develop.

This is possible because the vehicle is connected to the Cloud. During each journey, the driver-assist system collects data on the vehicle’s position, current speed, and lateral and linear acceleration (the forces produced while turning, braking or accelerating), and stores this information in the digital Cloud. Using this data, plus previously uploaded GPS map data, the system can calculate the optimum driving style for each section of the route. So when – next time around, for example – the driver approaches a bend on the same section of road at above-average speed, PreVision Cloud Assist reduces the drive torque in good time, throttling the vehicle down to the ideal speed for entering the bend without mechanical braking.

Vogel studied Engineering Cybernetics in Stuttgart and now works at ZF’s Corporate Research and Development Center in Friedrichshafen. The Advanced Urban Vehicle is the third ZF innovation prototype which he has helped develop. This is the kind of work he enjoys. “After all, every engineer dreams of being able to live out his or her creative ideas,” he smiles. “And of course it also enables me to make a social contribution, because I’m working on the big, global issues – reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – while at the same time enhancing driving safety.”

Close collaboration between developers

For Vogel, much of the appeal lies in working with colleagues from a wide variety of disciplines. When developing PreVision Cloud Assist, one of the secrets of the system’s success was his close collaboration with IT specialists and telematics experts across the company. Plus, of course, his interaction with colleagues responsible for developing the many other innovations in the Advanced Urban Vehicle, such as the eTB (Electric Twist Beam) rear axle with electric motors mounted alongside the rear wheels, the front axle’s exceptionally tight steering angle (up to 75 degrees), the parking assist function, and the smart steering wheel, which detects whether or not drivers have their hands on the wheel.

“Putting our joint ideas into practice in the Advanced Urban Vehicle and then testing the vehicle at the end of the development cycle was an amazing experience,” admits Vogel. But he’s already preparing for future projects. Because the Cloud-based technology used in PreVision Cloud Assist is also ideal for other driver-assist applications.

Video: Volker Vogel tells us about the PreVision Cloud Assist driver-assist system and explains what motivates him at work.

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