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#AutonomousEverything

Autonomous Driving: The Formula for Success

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Tags: AutonomousDriving, ArtificialIntelligence

Driverless cars require artificial intelligence and enormous computing power. ZF ProAI RoboThink is the most powerful AI-capable control unit in the automotive field. Moreover, the various ZF ProAI models offer exceptional flexibility.
Lars Weitbrecht, January 07, 2019
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Lars Weitbrecht originally comes from the music and gaming industry, but in addition to holding a game pad or guitar in his hand, he also enjoys the power of the pen and the feel of the steering wheel.
Drivers need to be able to process a great deal of information. Currently, this is the responsibility of human beings – in part with the help of advanced driver assistance systems. But soon, vehicles will be able to drive themselves. In order for driverless cars to react correctly and safely in all situations, they require artificial intelligence and an electronic “brain” that must possess immense computing power. With the new generation of its AI-capable control unit, ZF ProAI, ZF proves that it has found the formula for success when it comes to autonomous driving.

Have you ever wondered how much visual data humans are bombarded with every second? Researchers have calculated that our optic nerves transmit approximately one million bits of information to our brains every second. This calculation assumes that our retinas have already compressed this incoming information before it makes it to our brain’s gray matter.
Cars can also understand their environments in a number of ways. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which rely on cameras and radar systems, have made car travel significantly safer in recent years. Now manufacturers and suppliers such as ZF are working on the next stage: autonomous driving. When cars can drive themselves, human error – statistically the most likely cause of accidents – will no longer be an issue.

Autonomous Driving – the Next Generation

Autonomous Driving – the Next Generation

Driverless cars need to be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). After all, it is impossible to program every single possible situation that could occur on the road, including the appropriate solution, onto the vehicles in advance. Instead, cars are being developed with cognitive abilities similar to that of a human brain so that they can make decisions that are not included in their code. In a fraction of a millisecond, self-driving cars must be able to take in a 360-degree view of the environment around them, interpret this information, verify the position of the vehicle itself, track the position of any sources of danger, and, naturally, calculate and carry out driving maneuvers.

ZF ProAI RoboThink can process
150000000000000
operations (150 teraflops) per second

ZF ProAI RoboThink

This requires an immense amount of computing power – one that standard control units currently do not possess. That is why ZF developed the ZF ProAI RoboThink , its AI-compatible automotive supercomputer that premiered at CES 2019, thus introducing the most powerful automotive control unit on the market to its product range. The latest model of the ZF ProAI product line is equipped with its own graphics processing unit, boasts a computing power of more than 150 teraflops (which is equivalent to 150 trillion operations per second), and can be modularly combined with up to four other units, resulting in a total performance of 600 teraflops. For comparison: in 1969, the Apollo 11 computer was able to process 41.6 operations per second.

Scalable Power for Any Application

Scalable Power for Any Application

The ZF ProAI platform’s scalability is particularly appealing to automotive manufacturers. “The modular hardware concept and the open software architecture are ZF ProAI’s biggest USPs,” says Torsten Gollewski, ZF’s Manager of Advanced Engineering and Design and Managing Director of Zukunft Ventures GmbH. The four models in the ZF ProAI product line can be optimally configured for any application – from basic ADAS functions all the way to self-driving cars and industrial applications. Customers can also choose their own software architecture. ZF is able to cover the entire scope of possible applications with four models:
  • Gen1, the introductory model for ADAS in line with the Euro NCAP 2022 standards
  • Gen2 for partially and highly automated driving in accordance with Level 2 or 3
  • Gen3 for highly automated driving up to Level 4
  • RoboThink for autonomous driving features at Level 4 or higher

ZF ProAI Product Family

Mobility as a Service: The Ultimate Test for Computing Power

Mobility as a Service: The Ultimate Test for Computing Power

Experts predict that ride-hailing services will generate the greatest demand for AI-compatible control units. Driverless robo-taxis are expected to reduce CO₂ emissions and gridlock in cities, thus saving time and helping the environment while still allowing for individual mobility. The demand for computing power in this field is particularly high. “Demand from ride-hailing service providers for even more computing power has arisen much sooner than predicted. The market for autonomous driving will be propelled forward by the new mobility providers much more so than by established vehicle manufacturers,” says Gollewski. The reason? In these mobility-as-a-service applications, vehicles not only need to process what is happening around them, which is already a complex task, but also need to integrate user data via the cloud, complete payment transactions, and, most importantly, determine and take the optimal route. Complex algorithms calculate these routes on the basis of the mobility and transportation requirements of passengers or goods, and compare them to the latest traffic conditions in real time. All of this is only possible with an extremely powerful mainframe computer – for example, the ZF ProAI RoboThink.