ZF augments vehicle intelligence with next-gen AI supercomputer

Driverless car with AI

German car parts maker Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen (ZF) has unveiled the next generation of its AI-based supercomputer ZF ProAI.

The new ZF ProAI, which ZF claims is “the most flexible, scalable, and powerful automotive-grade supercomputer in the world,” supports all applications from automated driving levels 2 to 5.

With up to 66% more computing power than its predecessor, ZF ProAI’s AI capabilities are optimized for deep learning processes. Small yet powerful, its high-performance board features a 360° GPU for storing sensor data, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system, cameras, and audio units. Besides saving installation space, the new supercomputer also consumes up to 70% less power (3 teraOPS per Watt, on average).

Its modular design allows it to be fitted with various manufacturers’ system-on-chip (SoC). The hardware can be operated by ZF’s proprietary software or external third-party software. Standard connectors and the ability to connect different ZF ProAI units together provide added convenience, allowing just about any vehicle to use the device.

"Several significant orders for our high-performance computing platform confirm our vanguard position to drive vehicle intelligence," said Dr. Holger Klein, ZF board member for the Asia-Pacific region, at Auto Shanghai.

"Offering high computing power, cutting-edge software solutions, intelligent sensors, and smart actuators from a single source, ZF creates new possibilities for data-based business models for next generation mobility."

Also included in the solution is a measurement data interface (MDU) that helps ProAI forward the collected sensor log files directly to a central storage system for development and testing.

In addition to being reliable and resilient in harsh conditions, the ZF ProAI series also offers advanced cyber security protections.

ZF is developing a driverless automated parking system based solely on vehicles’ sensor sets. Demonstrating its visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM) technology at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition 2021, ZF said its infrastructure-independent automated valet parking system will be a cost-effective solution for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide. Real-time map generation and centimeter-accurate localization are possible with vSLAM.

“The sensor set is mainly based on one front camera, one front radar, four surrounding cameras and twelve ultrasonics but scalable with more advanced sensors as well as connectivity,” comments Renee Wang, ZF China president.