With the ProConnect platform, ZF offers a modularly configurable, optimally harmonized package for the highest performance requirements of modern connectivity like the AD/ADAS from SAE Level 2+ to Level 4. This includes hardware modules of the latest generation for the orchestration of all connectivity standards (cellular, satellite, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, V2X), cyber security, a flexible cloud environment and a comprehensive digital services portfolio (OTA, HD map generation, fleet orchestration, data collection, incident management, remote diagnosis, etc.) that meet all requirements for the software-defined vehicle of the future. Especially for high-precision positioning, ZF also offers the ProConnect GNSS, including correction service as a separate tailor-made product adaptation.
Connectivity gives vehicles capabilities that complement the on-board sensors and forms the basis for future AD/ADAS functions. For example, connected vehicles can be informed earlier about a sudden end to a traffic jam behind a curve, speed limits or black ice and be able to react accordingly.
Especially with further advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving, it is becoming increasingly important for vehicles to communicate with the traffic infrastructure such as traffic lights or traffic signs, other vehicles and other road users. This enables more safety, efficiency and comfort and plays a major role for the software-defined vehicles of the future. "Vehicles need V2X communication so that they can exchange with other road users, the infrastructure and the cloud. With ZF ProConnect, we are opening the door to digital business models and infotainment for our customers, which are playing an increasingly important role in the software-defined vehicle," says Oliver Briemle, Head of AD Components & Connectivity at ZF.
An extensive digital service portfolio completes the connectivity system, can be fully integrated into all customer environments and offers the possibility of 3rd-party applications:
There are many ways in which vehicles can connect with its environment. In its entirety, this is referred to as V2X communication (“Vehicle-to-everything”) and means communication with every object in the vehicle’s surroundings. This can be vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-cloud (V2C), or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. ZF ProConnects enables all these forms of connectivity. ZF ProConnect masters the common standards like DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communication), C-V2X (Cellular-V2X), as well as WiFi 6, the LTE and 5G mobile communication standards and Bluetooth 5. The connectivity platform is able to connect vehicles to the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), which enables a vehicle's position to be determined with centimeter precision via satellites. ProConnect also obtains the necessary map material via the cloud and is also able to independently generate and orchestrate HD map content. This ranges from HD map generation for dedicated routes to providing algorithmic toolkits for fleets with an existing sensor set.
Connectivity with the environment is one thing. However, it is also crucial to process the data supplied, to combine it with internal vehicle data and to derive actions. Here, in addition to the integrated computing power, ZF ProConnect also optionally interacts with the high-performance computer ZF ProAI, the most powerful supercomputer for the automotive industry. ZF ProAI processes the data supplied, combines it with existing sensor and other vehicle data, derives safe driving strategies using artificial intelligence, and passes these on as action commands to the actuator systems. In interaction with ProAI, ProConnect is a central piece of the puzzle for the software-defined vehicle – a basic prerequisite for the mobility of the future and its data-based business models.
As one of the first systems on the market, ProConnect also meets international automotive grade requirements such as the ISO 26262 standard for electrical/electronic systems, the functional safety criteria according to ASIL-B(D), and the cybersecurity standard ISO/SAE 21434. This provides a vehicle with the best protection against external access without authorization. At the same time, it offers vehicle manufacturers maximum flexibility: ZF ProConnect is extremely compact and scalable at 8.6 x 6.7 x 2 in – thanks to modular hardware and software.