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Electric Platform Snaps up Bodies as Required

With its Intelligent Dynamic Driving Chassis (IDDC), ZF meets all conditions for autonomous electric vehicles. Rinspeed already uses it as a "skateboard" in its Snap concept.

Text: Achim Neuwirth , 05. January, 2018

Achim Neuwirth has been writing for ZF since 2011. He has specialized in writing texts about all kinds of car-related topics: from vehicles to the technology behind them, to driving and traffic.

ZF's vision of how urban mobility will look like in the future is called Intelligent Dynamic Driving Chassis (IDDC) and meets all conditions for autonomous electric vehicles. Rinspeed already uses it as a "skateboard" in its Snap concept.

Just like more and more urban citizens, tomorrow's city cars will come in the form of multi-talented workaholics. The Rinspeed Snap mobility concept is a perfect example. Because every user of a car sharing scheme has different requirements, this concept offers easily exchangeable chassis named "pods". Whether for mobile working, family transportation, goods deliveries, shopping or other tasks: Depending on requirements, the bodies click simply and quickly onto a "skateboard" in the form of the Intelligent Dynamic Driving Chassis (IDDC) from ZF. This is a platform specially developed by ZF for autonomous electric vehicles. It is responsible for all driving functions, also in the Snap system. "Just like with last year's Oasis project, we again gave ZF a leading technological role," says Swiss automotive visionary and Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht.

"Everything is designed so that we replace and recycle the skateboard after a few years of highly intensive use, but continue to use the pods."

Frank M. Rinderknecht, Rinspeed

A new dimension of transport efficiency

To ensure maximum cost-effectiveness and eliminate parking-space wastage, the IDDC transports the pods continuously. It does this fully electrically, therefore cleanly and noiselessly. And because Snap is designed to save its passengers time, the concept vehicle navigates urban traffic completely autonomously and computer-controlled. Another bonus: "Right from the start, our concept takes into account the different service lives of the vehicle systems. That massively saves resources," says Rinderknecht. "Everything is designed so that we replace and recycle the skateboard after a few years of highly intensive use, but continue to use the pods." This works perfectly with Snap because the steering-wheel-free bodies are completely separate from the chassis with the drive, sensors and comparatively quickly outdated IT systems.

In Rinspeed's Snap concept, the IDDC drives various bodies around the city

Universal automation tool

This is how the IDDC from ZF delivers in one package what the Rinspeed concept demands for the future of urban mobility. The modular system mSTARS (modular Semi-Trailing Arm Rear Suspension) functions simultaneously as the rear axle and the drive. Also integrated is Active Kinematics Control (AKC) , which enables the rear wheels of the Snap to help steer up to an angle of 14 degrees. In the center of the ZF axis is an ultra-compact electric drive motor with a power of 50 kW. It is designed for maximum range, comparatively low speeds and the continuous loads typical in urban car sharing.

The IDDC front axle from ZF is named EasyTurn and keeps the promise in its name. Together with the modified electric power steering, it achieves a front steering angle of up to 75 degrees. Linked with the AKC at the rear, the Rinspeed Snap can almost turn on the spot and is extremely agile in city traffic.

ZF has also integrated features important for automatic and autonomous driving in its IDDC. Included here are the IBC electrically driven brake system plus hardware and software for effective vision: for example radar systems, LIDAR technology developed together with Ibeo Automotive Systems and optical cameras.

Responsible for driving intelligence in the IDDC is the supercomputer ZF ProAI, which was co-developed with NVIDIA. Acting as a high-performance electronic brain, the computer processes data in real time and uses it to instruct the actuators. With its artificial intelligence and deep-learning capabilities, ZF ProAI will prove that IT systems from ZF retain their value over the long term.

Maximum range with axle concepts from ZF

The IDDC from ZF functions as a "skateboard" for the „pods“ in the Snap system