Manfred Meyer

Manfred Meyer

The apparently simple issue of braking continues to be a major issue for chassis system designers. Drivers are, of course, concerned that in an emergency their semi- and ultimately fully-automated vehicle should stop as quickly as possible.  Continuing just-auto/QUBE's series of interviews with tier one component suppliers, we spoke to Manfred Meyer, Senior Vice President global braking systems for ZF Active and Passive Safety Technology Division, to learn about tomorrow's electronic braking systems.

ZF's automotive business activities are organised into seven divisions: Car Powertrain Technology, Car Chassis Technology, Commercial Vehicle Technology, Industrial Technology, E-Mobility, ZF Aftermarket and Active & Passive Safety Technology. The latter includes product line business units such as braking, steering, occupant safety and electronics.

In the first half of 2018, ZF's sales revenues increased to €18.7 billion, and adjusted operating profit (EBIT) amounted to some €1.1 billion. At the same time, ZF was able to further reduce the debts incurred from the TRW acquisition and increase investments in property, plant and equipment as well as expenditure in research and development. More specifically, ZF spent €1.1 billion on R&D, with a focus on the technologies of autonomous driving, electromobility, and active and passive safety technology.

In terms of steering systems, we are seeing a push toward fully-electric control. Do you see that happening with brakes?

Some vehicle manufacturers are opting for electric brake boosters combined with a standard ESC to maintain a more traditional braking architecture. 

That trend applies to brakes as well – although, a full brake-by-wire system is a long way from becoming mainstream.  We are seeing more systems like ZF's Integrated Brake Control that offer independent electronic boost and control for all powertrain systems that provide more efficient regenerative braking.  Some vehicle manufacturers are opting for electric brake boosters combined with a standard ESC to maintain a more traditional braking architecture.  Both systems will continue to grow with the increase of electronic powertrains and autonomous driving functions.

Do you see a time when the electrification of all auxiliary drives in the car will make the conventional brake system obsolete?

It is possible; however, we are decades away from removing conventional brakes from vehicles.  Although most braking events in an electric vehicle can be achieved through brake blending, there are still scenarios that require peak brake performance from standard friction brakes. 

What trends are you seeing in OEMs' strategies with regard to electronic braking system functions?

OEMs are increasingly moving towards electronic brake systems with a vacuum independent method for generating the brake boost.

OEMs are increasingly moving towards electronic brake systems with a vacuum independent method for generating the brake boost. These systems deliver significant deceleration and meet increasingly stringent regulatory requirements such as automatic emergency braking and will become an enabler for higher automated driving functionality in the near future.  While traditional longitudinal and lateral brake control such as ABS, stability and traction control remain critical, the future vehicle drive for electrified powertrains and automated driving require `vehicle motion control` functions to make the driving experience more comfortable and pleasant.  Our portfolio will include integrated wheel control functions such as stand still management, safe regenerative braking and high dynamic functions including torque vectoring.

The automatic emergency braking market has taken off over the last few years. How do you see its rollout in BRIC countries?

This will primarily be driven by regulation and how quickly the BRIC countries adopt and adapt the regulatory standards from other countries/regions. It appears that Euro NCAP will be the primary set of standards on which countries like China base their AEB regulation and testing. This is already under serious consideration by the Chinese bodies and testing agencies.  Brazil, India and Russia will likely lag China in their efforts to regulate AEB and so the AEB- equipped vehicles will likely be imported from the developed nations.  

There is a lot of attention these days on collision avoidance/mitigation. In terms of the braking system landscape, how can it be further developed?

These advanced electronic braking systems provide faster pressure build rates than conventional solutions allowing more time for sensing and processing systems to determine the appropriate action. At ZF, we are fortunate to have sensor expertise that accurately identifies vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or other objects that require collision avoidance or mitigation.  Therefore, we work closely together to develop safety system solutions for our customers.

In what ways will the fully-autonomous car change the braking system?

Highly autonomous braking systems will need to reliably provide traditional functionality in all environments without human intervention. 

The braking system is fundamental to the development of fully autonomous vehicles and will play a crucial role in both normal operation and safety-critical scenarios.  Highly autonomous braking systems will need to reliably provide traditional functionality in all environments without human intervention.  This is driving new 'redundant' braking architecture to meet low FIT requirements.  We are already working with our vehicle manufacturer partners to identify the best ways to accomplish this. 

Self-driving cars depend on making the equipment 'smart' with the help of software. How do you see your in-house brakes expertise adapting and/or forming more technology partnerships?

ZF has been increasing our global software expertise and we will continue to do so with the rise of autonomy.  We have also been very active in the formation of partnerships and while much of the activity has been within the electronics sensor and processing fields, we are always considering alternative ways to meet the demands of our customers and braking is no exception.

The path towards brake-by-wire in the automotive industry has not been all that smooth.  Where are we now?

We are currently entering into a transition phase of Electro-Hydraulic braking as OEMs replace traditional vacuum boost systems with Integrated Brake Control and eBoost solutions. 

We are currently entering into a transition phase of Electro-Hydraulic braking as OEMs replace traditional vacuum boost systems with Integrated Brake Control and eBoost solutions.  In the future, hydraulic calipers could be replaced by fully electro-mechanical calipers. 

Are you seeing any other trends in electronic braking systems emerging?

The use of braking ECUs to house additional customer software is a trend we believe will continue.  Demand for scalable micro-controllers that provide more space and less processing time continues to grow.  We have also supported the development of systems such as auto park functions and housed those functions within the ESC brake control unit software and this has been something of interest in particular to our premium customers.