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Robo-taxis – the Clever Way to Get a Ride

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Tags: AutonomousDriving, ArtificialIntelligence, Connectivity

Novel urban mobility choices such as ride-hailing are one of the biggest drivers behind the development of autonomous driving. ZF uses a demo vehicle to demonstrate how it enables novel forms of mobility.
Martin Westerhoff, January 08, 2019
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Martin Westerhoff studied technology journalism and writes about vehicles and technologies since then. He has a soft spot for motorsports and racing cars.
A couple strolls out the door and onto the sidewalk. She grabs her smartphone, opens a ride-hailing app, and orders an autonomous robo-taxi. A response from the cloud follows shortly thereafter: a shuttle will arrive in two minutes. When it arrives, other passengers who also want to go downtown are already in the vehicle. ZF recently presented a ride-hailing scenario similar to this one using a demo vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas.

“Today’s increasing people and goods transportation in urban centers demands automation, electrification, and networking. With our extensive systems competence, we’re enabling and shaping this next-generation mobility,” says Torsten Gollewski, Manager of Advanced Engineering and Design at ZF and Managing Director of ZF Zukunft Ventures GmbH. “Our flexible modular system solutions are attractive not just for conventional car manufacturers, but also and especially for new companies entering the mobility market.”
How this could look like is shown in the e.GO People Mover, which is developed and distributed in the joint venture e.GO Moove between ZF and the German start-up e.GO Mobile AG. Series production will start in Germany at the end of 2019 and is already being expanded with the goal of producing five-digit quantities per year. Now ZF and e.GO Moove also announce a customer and will work together with Transdev, one of the leading international mobility providers with 11 million customers daily customers, to further develop its Mobility-as-a-Service business based on the e.GO People Mover.
Autonomous ride-hailing: passengers enter their destination via smartphone. Soon after, a robo taxi arrives.

Analysts Predict Ride-Hailing to Bring Market Boom

Analysts Predict Ride-Hailing to Bring Market Boom

As of 2030, evaluations of Goldmann Sachs, Roland Berger and McKinsey project the autonomous driving market to yield between 12 to 18 billion US dollars annually in the passenger car segment and up to 36 billion US dollars for commercial vehicles. This includes hardware, software, services, and potential retrofitting. Analysts project annual potential earnings between 20 to 50 billion US dollars for the people and cargo mover market. With a projected yield of between 18 to 35 billion US dollars, ride-hailing, which is based on shared rides in robo-taxis or robo-shuttles, is expected to outperform the passenger car market by as much as double, providing legal regulations are passed on time. This includes regulations that would allow providers to operate taxis without human drivers.

Solutions for Developing Robot Vehicles

Solutions for Developing Robot Vehicles

With its robo-taxi, ZF demonstrated at CES that the technology company is capable of providing the necessary solutions for developing robot vehicles and related services, which is in line with its company philosophy: "see. think. act.". The ZF sensor set enables the demo vehicle to detect its environment with precision. ZF ProAI RoboThink, the high-performance mainframe computer for autonomous driving, is designed to process the vast amount of sensor data, compile it into a comprehensive overview, and derive corresponding commands from it. These commands are then implemented by networked ZF systems – including chassis, drive, steering system, brakes, or occupant safety systems.
ZF ProAI RoboThink is the world's most powerful central processing unit in the automotive field: This latest generation in the ZF ProAI product family comes with its own graphics processor, offers a total computing performance of more than 150 teraOPS (the equivalent of 150 trillion calculation operations per second) and can be modularly combined with up to four units, corresponding to a total performance of 600 teraOPS.
ZF has also been working hard to network its intelligent mechanical systems with its cloud-based platform for mobility services. It will be possible to integrate functions across all kinds of providers, for instance for ride-hailing, innovative delivery services, and fleet management. The vehicle software can be updated via the cloud.
“Our flexible modular system solutions are attractive not just for conventional car manufacturers, but also and especially for new companies entering the mobility market.”
— Torsten Gollewski, Manager of Advanced Engineering and Design at ZF and Managing Director of ZF Zukunft Ventures GmbH

Avoid unnecessary driving distances

Avoid unnecessary driving distances

A study by the University of Colorado Denver shows how important computing power and networking are for the continuous calculation of routes. The researchers found that today's ride-hailing trips in the Denver metropolitan area can increase distances travelled by car by up to 83 percent. The additional miles are mainly generated by shuttles whose drivers travel without passengers - and by passengers who have been walking or cycling up to now.“If we use autonomous vehicles as a shared resource, similar to how we use Uber today, that would help limit some of the miles travelled by a vehicle”, says Wesley Marshall, associate professor at the Institute of Civil Engineering and co-author of the study. He hopes that, depending on transport requirements, small and efficient vehicles will also be used. In any case, ZF has the right solutions in its portfolio for automated, electrified and connected vehicles.
Reaching your destination by high-tech: driverless Ride-Hailing requires even more processing power than autonomous driving. ZF ProAI RoboThink meets such high requirements.