ZF works with Microsoft to code the chassis of the future


ZF is collaborating with Microsoft to enhance the speed and quality of its software engineering processes, methods and solutions with a view to transforming into a software-driven mobility services provider. The first part of the collaboration sees ZF leveraging Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and developer tools as well as Microsoft’s experience in agile software development.

ZF’s vision of how the initiative will work will be showcased at CES 2020 in the form of cubiX, a software component that gathers sensor information from the entire vehicle and prepares it for an optimised control of active systems in the chassis, steering, brakes and propulsion. Following a vendor-agnostic approach, cubiX will support components from ZF as well as third-party components.

“cubiX creates networked chassis functions thanks to software: by connecting multiple vehicle systems such as electric power steering, active rear-axle steering, the sMotion active damping system, driveline control and integrated brake control, cubiX can optimise the behaviour of the car from one central source. This enables a new level of vehicle control and thus can increase safety – for example in unfavourable road conditions or in emergency situations,” said Dr Dirk Walliser, responsible for corporate research and development at ZF. ZF plans to start projects with first customers in 2020 and will offer cubiX from 2023, either as part of an overall system or as an individual software component.

“In the future, software will have one of the largest impacts on automotive system development and will be one of the key differentiating factors when it comes to realising higher levels of automated driving functions. We want to help drive this trend forward,” added Dr Walliser. “The collaboration with Microsoft will enable us to accelerate software integration and delivery significantly. Moreover, software will need to be developed when hardware is not yet available. ZF will then combine its enormous know-how as a system developer for the automotive industry with the added advantage of significantly higher speeds for software development.”

Sanjay Ravi, general manager of automotive industry at Microsoft added his view: “Digital capabilities will be key for automotive companies to grow and differentiate from their competition. DevOps empowers development and operations teams to optimise cross-team collaboration across automation, testing, monitoring and continuous delivery using agile methods. Microsoft is providing DevOps capabilities and sharing our experiences with ZF to help them become a software-driven mobility services provider”.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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