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ZF CEO Dr Stefan Sommer
<p>ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer</p>

ZF, WABCO develop emergency steering technology

Another 'critical step' toward autonomous driving for commercial vehicles

AACHEN, GERMANY. Integrating the latest innovations in vehicle sensors, braking, and steering systems, ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF) and WABCO Holdings Inc. (WABCO) on Wednesday will demonstrate the prototype of an “industry first” collision avoidance technology for commercial vehicles, the Evasive Maneuver Assist (EMA).

EMA marks another critical step toward enabling autonomous driving in the commercial vehicle industry, as ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer outlined during the company’s Global Press Event here this week. The system is being introduced for the first time in the prototype vehicle ZF Innovation Truck 2016.

“We try to have strong partnerships with companies that have technologies we don’t have or don’t want to produce on our own,” Sommer said. “We try to combine those technologies so that, at the end, we are able to provide the overall system of intelligent or autonomous driving vehicles.”

EMA combines the capabilities of WABCO's OnGuardACTIVE, the advanced, radar-only collision mitigation system, with ZF's electrohydraulic ReAX power steering system. A radar sensor identifies moving or stationary vehicles ahead and alerts the driver via visual, audio and haptic signals of impending rear-end collisions.

EMA controls both the longitudinal and lateral movements of trucks and trailers in challenging driving situations at high-speed, thereby, helping to avoid rear-end collisions.

The assistant function detects if the automatic emergency braking system or driver braking is sufficient to enable a stop before hitting the obstacle. If braking is insufficient, as may be the case on slippery roads or if traffic hazards appear suddenly in blind curves or after hill crests, the EMA directs the truck with its trailer (initiated by the steering motion of the driver to the right or left) independently and safely toward the desired open lane or hard shoulder, even at maximum speed.

“Our innovative function simultaneously evades, brakes and stabilizes automatically—at all speeds, with any load in the semitrailer truck and with any type of semi-trailer,” says Mitja Schulz, senior vice president and  general manager, Commercial Steering Systems at ZF TRW.

With sudden manual avoidance maneuvers, there is always the risk that the driver steers too lightly to avoid the obstruction, causing a truly critical collision with an offset crash. Alternatively, the driver may steer too abruptly, heavily turning in, causing the truck to swerve or even tip over or crossing more than one lane and endangering others. EMA is designed to be able to prevent these scenarios.

During automated control, the software constantly calculates the optimal evasion route and adjusts the steering angle accordingly. The software algorithm continuously monitors and compares the calculated and actual steering trajectory. The integrated roll-over protection function in the EMA is adapted for such extreme driving situations.

The system also is designed so that the driver can override EMA at any time during the autonomous evasive maneuver by simply taking control of the steering wheel, brakes or throttle.

“We are ready to apply this with any OEM,” Sommer said. “Normal development lead time is three years, so by 2019 or 2020 we could be in the market with these technologies.”

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