German automotive supplier ZF is rapidly consolidating its recent acquisitions and technological developments on the fronts of electric vehicles and autonomous control systems with new technologies and global strategic partnerships, the company announced at CES in a virtual press conference .
ZF has developed a scalable and modular electric motor inverter architecture that allows OEMs maximum flexibility for vehicle platforms with power capacities ranging from 400 volts to 800 volts, according to ZF president for the Americas and member of the board of directors Martin Fischer. Fischer said this range of scalability will be important in helping OEMs bridge silicon and silicon carbide semiconductors, while setting the stage for compatibility with semiconductor trends.
Now combined with ZF’s advanced inverter design, next-generation power semiconductors and intelligent software algorithms, the development increases efficiency, peak power and shortens development cycles for electric vehicles, Fischer added. .
The efficiency and peak power of an inverter are not only defined by the properties of power semiconductors, they are also significantly defined by software, Fischer explained. Alignment of the inverter technology and control software is essential and can be achieved by multiple feedback loops, in which the inverter hardware provides the software with a flow of information (electric current, temperature, voltage intermediate circuit, etc.) which is used to optimize pulse patterns and real-time switching strategies to improve efficiency and peak power. For silicon carbide-based systems, ZF has found a solution that optimizes the link between the boundary conditions of power semiconductors and the control software in order to fully exploit the potential of the semiconductor configuration.
“The inverter is the brains of electrical transmissions,” Fischer noted. “It manages the flow of energy from the battery to the electric motor and vice versa. Inverters have become more efficient and more complex with each stage of development. The next evolution is the combination of inverter design, next generation power semiconductors and highly intelligent software algorithms. Combined with our new advanced software for electric vehicles, we will soon be able to define the future with an operating system that will deliver new levels of functionality for electric vehicles. As with the human body, you can train the muscles and the brain to respond more effectively than usual, for example by playing sports or playing music. This is also what an inverter does – it flexes the electric motor in the most efficient and fastest way. “
The control board within an inverter houses the inverter software – where the vehicle’s power demand is translated into various digital control signals for the control board which drives the power semiconductors based on the signals control. It is one of the key components of an inverter because the grid drive technology is responsible for the safety characteristics, performance, efficiency and total range of the electric vehicle that can be taken from the electric vehicle. power semiconductors, Fischer added.
ZF and VinFast to collaborate on advanced autonomous control systems
ZF also announced a global strategic partnership with Vietnamese stand-alone technology developer Vinfast. The collaboration will bring advanced automated driving and parking functions to Level 2, with collaboration for Level 3 and Level 4 systems taking shape over the next several years, Fischer said.
ZF will provide advanced sensors, high performance computing platforms and associated software to the partnership. VinFast, which Fischer called the Vietnamese fast-growing flagship electric vehicle maker, will launch platforms with higher-level automated functions in the near future using ZF’s expertise in hardware, software and integration integration. system.
ZF will also be the key system partner providing multiple cameras, radars and LiDAR sensors and intelligent fusion of sensors to be networked within an advanced ZF central control unit. This collaboration will allow VinFast and ZF to initially deliver Level 2 autonomous systems, while developing higher level functions such as Traffic Jam Pilot, Highway Driving Chauffeur and Automated Valet Parking, Fischer noted.
“Our companies are perfectly suited because our mobility goals are perfectly aligned,” said Le Thi Thu Thuy, CEO of VinFast Global. “The future is both electric and automated as we seek to protect our environment while providing transportation that improves safety, convenience and efficiency. We will work together to achieve this vision for VinFast customers as we grow our sales globally. ”
Fischer said ZF looks forward to working with VinFast to bring higher levels of range to their light passenger vehicles.
“Raising the capabilities of all forms of mobility is our goal,” he said. “The design and development of next-level AD systems will help drivers around the world enjoy enhanced levels of safety, convenience and intelligence. This is our vision when we talk about the next generation of mobility and proof of how we do it. make it a reality now.