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ZF partners with BEEP to bring Robo-Shuttle to market


As the autonomous vehicle industry progresses, we are starting to see fewer traditional cars and more cars designed without drivers. Instead of a car where everyone faces the same and is designed to look cool, the goals have changed. Ease of access and space, as well as safety and profitability, are the new goals. Also, with urban mobility being the main focus, even the aerodynamics are a bit abandoned (because low-speed vehicles don’t need to cut through the air).

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, ZF proudly presents its next-generation shuttle for autonomous driving in congested cities and busy roads. This successor to its current model – developed primarily for use in dedicated lanes – benefits from an alliance with Beep, Inc., the leading US-based mobility service provider.

ZF and Beep have teamed up to launch the effort, which will deliver thousands of shuttles over the next few years. By combining ZF’s autonomous transportation system with Beep’s mobility services and service management platform, customers can access an unparalleled single-source autonomous mobility solution.

“To reduce traffic-related emissions in metropolitan areas, a reduction in motorized individual transport and a simultaneous expansion of more sustainable, efficient, comfortable and affordable mobility options are needed,” says Torsten Gollewski, Executive Vice President of ‘Autonomous Mobility Systems. at ZF.

ZF says it is spearheading a mobility revolution with its autonomous transport systems, helping to tackle the looming driver shortage for local public transport. Demonstrating the company’s commitment to “next-generation mobility NOW”, ZF has just unveiled an advanced Level 4 shuttle that joins its existing autonomous shuttle model. In the coming months, ZF will offer two distinct types of shuttles: one geared towards split lanes and another designed primarily for urban areas and mixed-traffic scenarios.

Hardware and software

The shuttle is equipped with sophisticated sensor technology, including lidar, radar, camera and audio systems that enable accurate detection of its surroundings. The ZF ProConnect connectivity platform allows the Shuttle to communicate with cloud infrastructure and platforms, as well as the all-important ZF ProAI supercomputer where data is gathered for analysis.

ZF’s automated driving (AD) software, the Virtual Driver, is able to analyze an immense amount of data and come up with safe driving strategies using artificial intelligence. These tactics are then relayed as inputs for on-board actuators, eventually replacing human drivers and rendering steering wheels and brake pedals unnecessary. To ensure maximum reliability, the system was developed with redundant stability. As a result, the ProConnect and ProAI units work together to run ZF Virtual Driver efficiently. Every ZF component is certified automotive-grade, thus complying with safety regulations set by the automotive industry as well as relevant cybersecurity standards.

Modular and flexible design

Boasting options of 50 and 100 kWh battery capacities, the revolutionary Shuttle can travel up to 80 miles in pure electric mode – with a speed limit that starts at 25 mph and increases to 50 mph. With space for 22 passengers, with up to 15 seated comfortably, it also meets all American Disabilities Act requirements and includes an automatic ramp as well as wheelchair restraints.

Customizable in terms of layout and level of finish, the interior of this shuttle makes it easy to approach any stop. Its front and rear steering wheels with kneeling functions significantly minimize its distance from curbs for precise docking that provides barrier-free boarding and alighting.

ZF’s autonomous zero-emission shuttles have the ability to operate on fixed schedules 24 hours a day without fail. Public transport operators can now offer users a quality of service, whether demand is high or low; moreover, they can extend routes even with an extreme lack of driver availability.

What Beep brings to the table

ZF and Beep have formed an alliance to bring the all-new shuttle service to America. By joining forces, ZF and US mobility provider Beep are paving the way for a more convenient mode of transportation.

Beep is revolutionizing the transportation industry from its headquarters in Lake Nona, Florida. Specializing in the planning and deployment of autonomous shuttles for the public and private sectors, Beep connects people to places quickly and safely through first-mile/last-mile mobility networks across the United States. For over three years, they have rigorously tested these shuttles on roads across America, resulting in over 100,000 hours of driving. They also actively run what is considered by many to be the oldest US-based autonomous mobility network right here at home – Lake Nona’s own!

“We are excited to partner with ZF to bring their next generation shuttle to market in the United States,” said Joe Moye, CEO of Beep. “ZF’s full range of shuttle services, its partner network in the United States and its automotive-grade vehicle complement our turnkey mobility networks and autonomous services technology platform. This shuttle will allow us to pursue our vision of expanding mobility equity and reducing carbon emissions, expanding our use cases while meeting industry demands for life, performance and durability. vehicle safety.

What ZF will bring

As a technology innovator, ZF sees itself not only as a shuttle supplier, but also as a dedicated partner throughout the lifetime of its shuttles. In order to ensure continuous operation and maximum availability of their vehicles, this partnership consists of a complete maintenance service.

“For service, customers can rely on ZF’s global network with 20,000 partner workshops worldwide. In North America alone, we have 3,000 partner workshops, so supporting our customers is always a priority,” said Marco Neubold, Vice President of Industrial Aftermarket and Autonomous Mobility at ZF.

In addition, ZF’s Mobility Solutions branch provides a consistent environment for autonomous transport systems. Their extensive services range from individual advice and route planning to shuttle management, infrastructure requirements such as charging stations, as well as fleet management – all of which can be integrated into the existing framework of transparent manner to promote operational fluidity.

By introducing autonomous shuttle systems, ZF claims to have become a key player in shaping the future of public transport. “This is consistent with our strategy of fielding Level 4 autonomous driving first with commercial vehicles and shuttles. Autonomous transportation systems are no longer a vision. We start with implementation,” said Gollewski said.

Joe Moye, Beep, (left) and Josef Waldbauer, ZF, sign the strategic partnership in the presence of Kevin Reid, Hinrich Woebcken, Dr. Holger Klein and Torsten Gollewski.

Featured image and all other images provided by ZF.

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