In deals announced recently it appears ZF are moving to tie up technology from a number of sources moving forward into the next stage of development in the trucking arena. In one of the deals ZF announced it has acquired a 40 per cent stake in Ibeo Automotive Systems, a market leader in lidar technology, developing environmental recognition software with a particular focus on applications for autonomous driving.
In another development ZF has made a public offer for Haldex, supplier of brake products and air suspension systems for trucks.A combination of Haldex and ZF represents an opportunity for both companies to jointly expand in the field of drivetrain and chassis, including brake and air suspension solutions, as well as for future plans as outlined in ZF’s Strategy 2025.
“Lidar gives us access to a core technology for environmental and object recognition,” said Stefan Sommer, ZF CEO. “Lidar expands our current sensor portfolio of radar and camera technologies, and moreover, Ibeo’s fusion of these three sensor technologies provides outstanding results in environmental awareness and forms the basis for autonomous driving.”
Lidar, ‘light detection and ranging’ uses a light pulse emitted to determine a distance based on runtime and speed of light. Lidar is an optical method for measuring distance and speed similar to radar, except laser pulses are used instead of radio waves.
The next lidar generation developed in cooperation with ZF is aimed to reproduce a three-dimensional image of the environment without the rotating mirrors contained in current lidar systems. With solid state technology, lidar will become more compact and easier to integrate into the vehicle.
“Our central theme at ZF is ‘See-Think-Act’, a philosophy which highlights how we are equipping the vehicles of tomorrow with new senses and more intelligence,” said Sommer. “To achieve this, we are gradually filling in the remaining gaps in our technology portfolio.
“With lidar technology and sensor fusion, we are able to strengthen the eyes and brain of future generations of vehicles and thus move a step closer to realising the vision of accident-free driving.”
With Haldex’s brake systems for commercial vehicles, ZF should be able to cover the whole functional chain of commercial vehicles in line with ‘See-Think-Act’ and transfer fuel efficiency, autonomous driving and safety systems technologies from passenger cars to commercial vehicles.
“We believe that our businesses are truly complementary and that a combination will offer unique value for all stakeholders,” said Sommer, talking about the haled bid. “We are confident that we will be able to continue to develop Haldex’s market position under ZF ownership, thanks to ZF’s technological leadership, global reach and customer access, combined with Haldex’s technological competence, management skills and employees.”