Technology

Primed for the Mobility of the Future

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Tags: AutonomousDriving, SeeThinkAct, Efficiency, VehicleMotionControl

The chassis system plays a crucial role when it comes to clean, safe, and comfortable mobility. Accordingly, “Vehicle Motion Control“ is one of four central fields of technology in ZF‘s “Next Generation Mobility” Group strategy.
Kathrin Wildemann, June 19, 2019
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Kathrin Wildemann has been a part of the permanent Copy Team at ZF since 2016. In her online and offline articles, she likes to cover electromobility and other topics that involve sustainability.
When it comes to the big trends currently dominating the automotive industry, the focus is primarily on drive, software, and sensors. This is completely legitimate since these components are essential for innovative, networked, and sustainable mobility solutions. However, there is another decisive factor that is often overlooked; the chassis system of the vehicle.

Whether the drive is conventional or fully electric, automatically or manually driven, the chassis system is a complex system comprised of steering, braking, shock absorption, suspension, and wheel control. Essentially, it provides the foundation required to maneuver vehicles of every kind through traffic in a controlled manner. In light of this, ZF included “Vehicle Motion Control” as one of four central fields of technology in its Group strategy, alongside electromobility, integrated safety, and fully automated driving.

Vehicle Motion Control for clean, safe, and comfortable mobility

In other words, “Vehicle Motion Control” describes the control of vehicle motion, including longitudinal, transverse, and vertical motion. For instance, when brakes respond immediately, how smoothly a car goes around a tight curve, or how vigorously passengers are tossed around on a pothole-ridden runway; these are all controlled and are possible by the various components in the chassis system. The chassis is primarily responsible for drive quality, drive dynamic, and safety. “ZF is in a unique position in the industry. As a single supplier, we offer actuator systems that allow you to comprehensively control each and every dimension of drive dynamics. When it comes to passenger comfort, we do not leave anything to chance”, says Dr. Peter Holdmann, Head of the Car Chassis Technology division at ZF.

No self-driving cars without driving comfort

A smooth and pleasant ride is much more than just an added bonus. Self-driving cars will have to contend with the fundamental question of why long car rides are an ordeal for passengers who are prone to car sickness. This is because every chassis movement becomes a source of discomfort when passengers are no longer focused on road and traffic conditions. In order for robo-taxis of the future to function as mobile living rooms or offices, passengers must be completely unburdened by road and driving conditions. Such a development requires a smart and future-oriented system that intelligently networks all the chassis components in a perfectly synchronized manner, such as sMOTION, the active damping concept developed by ZF. “With our innovative chassis technology we have assumed a leading role in the pioneering fields of fully automated driving and electromobility”, says Holdmann.
“As an industry-wide single supplier, we are in a position to comprehensively control each and every dimension of drive dynamics. In terms of burgeoning trends such as electromobility and fully automated driving, our chassis technology is clearly at the forefront."
— Dr. Peter Holdmann, Head of the Car Chassis Technology Division

Making electric cars agile and efficient

E-cars also require chassis modifications, which leads to additional costs for manufacturers who have to develop their own platform for their electrically driven models. To circumvent this, ZF offers the modular Semi-Trailing Arm Rear Suspension (mSTARS) rear axle system, a construction kit solution in which both an electric axle drive and the proprietary Active Kinematics Control (AKC) rear wheel steering system can be integrated to fit into the available installation space. It provides electrically powered vehicles with additional driving stability and agility thanks to the integrated battery, which often extends the wheelbase and thus increases the turning radius. ZF goes a step further as a systems provider for new mobility companies who have limited development and production resources by integrating all of its smart mechatronic chassis systems with sensors and control software into its Intelligent Dynamic Driving Chassis (IDDC), resulting in a versatile platform for highly automated electric cars.