Brake system manufacturer Knorr-Bremse – the parent company of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC – said it is buying tedrive Steering Systems GmbH based in Wülfrath, Germany, as part of a larger effort to craft more “highly integrated systems” for autonomous vehicle operation.
Neither company disclosed the purchase price, with Knorr-Bremse adding that the acquisition is subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities.
With some 320 employees and locations in Germany, Turkey, Russia and the U.S., tedrive manufactures rack-and-pinion as well as recirculating ball steering gear systems across all vehicle segments; systems that including its intelligent Hydraulic Steering Assist (iHSA) technology.
That particular hydraulic system, equipped with electric steering actuation, will help meet demands of autonomous commercial vehicle operations, noted Peter Laier, a Knorr-Bremse executive board member responsible for the commercial vehicle systems division.
“For us as a manufacturer of braking systems, entering the steering market is the logical next step in expanding our systems expertise,” he explained in a statement. “Through the smart connection of systems and subsystems we will be able to generate added value for our customers, be they commercial vehicle manufacturers or operators, in the development, production and operation of their vehicles.”
Laier said that will be particularly important against the backdrop of increasingly widespread driver assistance systems and the automation of driving functions – developments that not only offer greater safety but also reduce total vehicle operating costs.
“Coming from the global market leader in electronic brake control systems, our new generation of brake control products is designed to support the complex control procedures required for autonomous driving,” he added. “Together with the steering expertise of tedrive, this core competency of Knorr-Bremse opens up additional opportunities to supply our customers with highly integrated and efficient system solutions.”
Autonomous driving predicates control of longitudinal and lateral vehicle dynamics independent of driver input, noted Laier, and Knorr-Bremse’s current electronic brake control systems already control longitudinal motion and at the same time ensure the dynamic stability of the vehicle.
Down the road, in combination with the newly-acquired iHSA steering system from tedrive, he said Knorr-Bremse will be able to offer extended automated driving functionalities that were previously restricted to the passenger car sector, such as active lane-keeping on motorways and freeways, as well as functionalities specific to commercial vehicles, such as platooning or autonomous yard maneuvering.