There is a big number that ZF Friedrichshafen's head of advanced engineering is determined to reduce. That number is the 1.25 million traffic deaths that take place worldwide each year. Torsten Gollewski, a former Audi manager who joined ZF last year, is not alone.
Rival engineers at suppliers such as Continental, Delphi and Robert Bosch are racing to find solutions to help prevent this massive loss of life. To get there, Gollewski, who also serves as managing director of ZF’s Zukunft (German for future) Ventures incubator, is looking for help.
Zukunft Ventures acquires stakes in small companies that help bolster ZF’s expertise in autonomous driving. One example is the 45 percent share that the world’s second-largest supplier took in Astyx Communication & Sensors earlier this year. ZF has teamed with Astyx, a maker of ultrahigh-frequency radar sensors, to develop algorithms that can predict things such as the frictional coefficient for a curve on a deserted country road.
In Germany, roughly half of all traffic-related deaths in passenger cars occur in single driver situations, such as understeering on a slippery road. Here, for example, even the most modern car-to-X communication system would not be able to provide a vehicle’s self-driving computer with up-to-date information about surface conditions, since it might have been an hour or more since the last car drove by and transmitted a measurement to the Cloud.