ZF dynamic chassis provides platform for autonomous driving

The IDDC from ZF is suitable for vehicle concepts such as the Rinspeed Snap

ZF has developed the IDDC intelligent dynamic driving chassis, an autonomous driving platform that it hopes will enable automated and emission-free mobility in the future.

The company has combined innovative chassis systems, electric drives and environmental sensors with hardware and software to create the skateboard autonomous driving platform.

As well as supporting ZF’s zero emissions philosophy, the IDDC can enable vehicles to see, think and act. This is achieved using environmental sensors, intelligent control units and connected mechanical systems.

With the IDDC, a skateboard forms the basis of Rinspeed's urban mobility concept, Snap. It integrates hardware and software within the driving platform and can be flexibly detached from the passenger cabin or pod.

"Urban transport of tomorrow will be emission-free locally, will move autonomously and will adapt to the most varied requirements with great flexibility," said Torsten Gollewski, head of advanced engineering at ZF. “Our IDDC delivers the necessary technological and functional requirements required for this to be brought to the table today.”

The IDDC is all-electric with manoeuvrability that lets it navigate its way through the city without a human driver and, in theory, even without a passenger cabin. This is suitable for vehicle concepts such as the Rinspeed Snap, where the driving chassis from ZF is intended to be used round the clock in continuous operation. In contrast, superstructures called pods – mobile or stationary cabins for people or goods without a steering wheel – are constantly being changed, according to current requirements.

A core element of the IDDC is the mStars modular rear axle system; mStars stands for modular semi-trailing arm rear suspension. The active kinematics control (AKC) rear axle steering is integrated here.

ZF raised its maximum steering angle to 14 degrees for the Rinspeed Snap. The electric motor and power electronics are positioned inside the axle to drive the vehicle efficiently. In contrast to the usual electric axle drive, which has 150kW of output, Snap has a smaller output of 50kW. It is systematically designed to achieve longer distances and relatively low speeds, and withstand endurance stress for urban car sharing.

The front axle of the IDDC is equally innovative. The system, called EasyTurn, enables an expansive steering angle of up to 75 degrees, which it achieves via interaction with ZF's modified electric power steering. Classic methods allow a maximum angle of 50 degrees. Therefore, thanks to the AKC on the rear axle, the Rinspeed Snap can nearly pirouette on the spot, which is a huge advantage in terms of agility in crowded city centres.

Like the other components in the IDDC, the integrated brake control from ZF is electrically driven in the Snap concept. This technology is also one of the prerequisites for automated and autonomous driving.

ZF has integrated hardware and software into the chassis so the IDDC can detect its surroundings even without the pod. A sensor cluster is configured for autonomous driving in cities. It consists of radar systems, lidar technology, which ZF developed jointly with Ibeo Automotive Systems, and camera systems. This enables 360-degree environmental detection for both long-range and short-range applications at virtually all typical city speeds and in all light and weather conditions.

In the future, data from all components, systems and sensors in the IDDC as well as from car-to-x communication will be analysed and processed together on a central supercomputer called ZF ProAI, developed in cooperation with Nvidia. The computer will process data in real time and will use them to help instruct the actuators.

ZF ProAI will control all longitudinal and lateral control functions and, if applicable, vertical control functions. The control box will also use artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities, which are additional factors for ensuring the development of autonomous driving.

www.zf.com

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