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Road Safety and Zero Emissions

With its automated electric concept car, ZF has taken a great leap ahead in terms of a mobile world with zero accidents and zero emissions.

Text:  25. August, 2017

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.

Zero accidents and zero emissions – these two aspects sum to a comprehensive Vision Zero at ZF. An ambitious goal, because a mobile world without accidents or pollutant emissions can only be made a reality if all vehicles are purely electric and autonomous. Impossible?

To show how intelligent mechanical systems can bring us a step closer to this ideal, ZF has already brought together both aspects of its Vision Zero in a concept vehicle: the Vision Zero Vehicle combines innovative safety systems that can prevent potential wrong-way drivers from making the wrong turn (Wrong-way Inhibit) or direct the attention of distracted drivers back to the road (Driver Distraction Assist) with a purely electric drive that is powerful enough to easily propel a minivan.

The other features of the Vision Zero Vehicle at a glance

Smart assistants: How the Vision Zero vehicle supports

In addition to Wrong-way Inhibit and Driver Distraction Assist, the concept vehicle provides the driver with additional intelligent assistance systems.

  • Active Buckle Lifter (ABL): Even before setting off, the occupants in all the seats are reminded to buckle up, while simultaneously in- creasing their comfor t. The active buckle lifter (ABL) moves upward as the passengers get into the car. A new ABL design has made its debut on the rear seat of the Vision Zero Vehicle: it is able to detect when in- tegrated child seats are being used and will move the buckle high enough so that even in this situation the child can comfor tably buckle themselves in or an adult can do it for them.

  • Predictive Safety: the occupants are given tactile information in anticipation of a potentially dangerous situation. By tightening the seat belt they are moved into an optimally safe position. The secure hold as a predictive measure actively protects the driver above all else and prevents any undesirable steering reactions.

The active buckle lifter will move the buckle high enough that it is easily accessible

How the Vision Zero Vehicle makes automated driving safer

ZF’s expertise is not limited to innovative assistance systems, though. With its autonomous driving functions, the Vision Zero Vehicle demonstrates what future mobility might look like. The Vision Zero Vehicle informs the driver at an early stage of any road sections where automated driving is possible. The driver then presses two buttons on the ZF steering wheel and the autopilot takes over.

  • Comfort Maneuvering: Even fast lane changes almost feel like a smooth straight drive for the occupants. This is particularly important for fully automated driving, because the vehicle occupants aren’t focused on the road the whole time and are able to occupy themselves with other things. Accordingly, heavy steering maneuvers, for example, can feel unpleasant. From a technical perspective, this requires the interaction of ZF’s electric power steering (EPS) at the front and the AKC rear axle steering system at the rear. The vehicle passes an obstacle without the usual turning motions as the front and rear wheels steer in parallel.

  • Return to the driver: The human-machine interface (HMI) on the Vision Zero Vehicle is designed to make the transition from automated to assisted driving mode as safe as possible. If the vehicle approaches complex situations such as road work sites on freeways, it informs the driver about them in several stages and with sufficient time to react. If the driver fails to take control of the wheel, the function brings the car to a stop in a safe place.