ZF plans to acquire 90% of the shares in Simi Reality Motion Systems GmbH, a company that specialises in occupant recognition software.

The company and its 35 employees work on image-based 3D systems for the recording and analysis of human movement. This knowledge, ZF says, is highly valuable in the development of systems for occupant recognition which it says are a fundamental element for integrated safety in autonomous driving.

The development of new interior concepts for highly automated or autonomous driving include the potential for new seating positions as the driver can hand over responsibility for driving to the vehicle, either in part or in full. To relax during the journey, for example, in future vehicles, the occupant could move their seat back or tilt the seat further than in current vehicle configurations allow. For occupant protection in these non-conventional seating positions, vehicle systems need to be aware of the size, location and position of the occupant.

"One key to the occupant safety of tomorrow is highly efficient systems for occupant recognition," says Norbert Kagerer, head of Integrated Safety at ZF. "This is precisely the area in which we would like to become stronger through our investment in Simi Reality Motion Systems, with a view to offering integrated safety systems from a single source."

ZF's investment in Simi will complement the competence it already has in occupant safety systems (especially via its TRW acquisition) such as seat belts, airbags and steering wheels. Together with sensor systems for environment and interior recognition and the corresponding software, ZF says it is the most broadly based supplier in the market for automotive safety technology.

"In the last few decades we have made a name for ourselves as a supplier of first-class image-based 3D software for human movement and behavior analysis," says Andreas Ruß, founder and managing director of Simi Reality Motion Systems GmbH. "Our current expertise is based on the experience we have gathered in areas such as high-performance sports and medicine. This investment by ZF will now enable us to contribute this knowledge more effectively in the automotive industry, and to benefit much more rapidly from growth opportunities." Following the acquisition by ZF, Andreas Ruß will be passing on responsibility for the company to his two sons Philipp and Pascal.

Simi Reality Motion Systems was established in Unterschleißheim near Munich in 1992 and currently has around 35 employees, the majority of whom are involved in software development. Simi currently has more than 1,000 systems installed in the market worldwide.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more