Connectivity and digitalization have become an integral part of our everyday lives. The enormous quantities of information available everywhere and in real time make new functions and business models possible that were unthinkable a few decades ago.
Software competence is becoming a key factor for innovation and an indispensable characteristic of technology leaders. This also applies to mobility and industrial applications: The prerequisite for successful products is the ability to network individual components to form comprehensive systems that act and learn independently thanks to artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms.
With this, ZF develops highly automated driver assistance systems as well as smart IoT and connectivity solutions: Digitalization serves the Group as an enabler for shaping the mobility of the future.
The convergence of hardware, software and electronics in the automotive industry is leading to a completely new mobility landscape. In addition to innovations, breaks are also occurring at the points of contact with other industries. The connectivity requirements of the individual components in the "Software Defined Car" are shifting the value creation increasingly from hardware to software. This change requires faster and more comprehensive software development - on the one hand with regard to the speed and quality of processes, but also with regard to methods and solutions in software engineering.
Equipping computers and robots with the cognitive abilities to handle even highly complex tasks better than humans - that is the goal of artificial intelligence (AI). The rapidly, increasing computing power of processors makes it possible to process enormous amounts of data in the shortest amount of time. An appropriately programmed algorithm recognizes patterns in Big Data and can interpret them. AI systems can solve problems that are not thematically stored in their code.
One example is the central computer ZF ProAI, which is the most flexible, scalable and powerful central computer in the mobility industry. It evaluates the flood of information generated by a car's various sensor systems in real time. With this, it calculates the optimum reaction of the vehicle - and learns continuously from the experience gained. These skills are a prerequisite for realizing automated driving in everyday life.
An important characteristic of AI systems is that they continuously learn as they collect more data.
For particularly complex tasks, special deep-learning algorithms are required, which in their structure simulate the neural networks of the human brain. They allow feedback and correction loops and are particularly well-suited for detecting patterns or deviations in large amounts of data.
This makes deep learning systems, particularly well-suited for image recognition programs, such as those used in the software architecture of ZF Pro AI.
The idea behind the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is to let machines of any kind communicate with each other as well as with external users.
This networking of different systems makes new digital services possible on the one hand. It also allows hardware to be used more efficiently on the other. This applies to cars that share information about potholes with other vehicles, as well as industrial manufacturing plants, which coordinate current capacity utilization, or wind turbines, whose maintenance can be planned before damage occurs thanks to real-time data on wear.
ZF offers an infrastructure for these applications with its cloud-based IoT platform. Thanks to its broad portfolio, the technology group benefits from cross-sector synergies to offer its customers a wide range of innovative, secure and intelligent functions.
In a networked world, it is essential that vehicles and systems communicate with each other. In future mobility solutions, not only the vehicles themselves and among each other will be networked. Additionally, mobility services and infrastructure will be integrated into this network. ZF offers solutions in both the logistics and automotive sectors.
Networked systems are considered a decisive factor for future mobility. Digitalization offers great opportunities for all fields of technology and will be one of the key differentiators in achieving higher levels of automation. But this trend also applies to e-mobility and vehicle safety or in modern chassis technology. At the same time, ZF is increasing its expertise in software development in order to convince with innovations which will increasingly be software products in the future.