ZF showed an autonomous ridesharing solution at CES 2019, Nicole Scott sits down with Torsten Gollewski Senior VP of Research and Development talk about the future of ridesharing and what kind of role ZF will play in that future.
The ZF Autonomous Ride-Hailing Taxi is a prototype that’s meant to preview the experience of a new form of urban mobility, but that technology will actually be put to use this year in Germany.
Seeing this demo raised the question about how this trend will develop over the next few years, even though robo-taxi looks nearly identical to a regular van—the slight difference is in the noticeable when you get in. There are sensors that are not on production cars today and the interior isn’t what you’re used to, it’s a lot more futuristic. There is a joystick that can manually allow control of the vehicle, but ZF’s engineers tell us this is only because they don’t think the public is ready to give up complete control just yet.
The robo-taxi uses the company’s newest, most advanced processor, the ZF Pro-AI RoboThink, which constantly pulls data from the car’s sensors, including cameras, radar, and LiDAR systems.
What’s most surprising is how quickly one gets used to being driven by this embedded supercomputer. ZF will begin its own autonomous testing in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where the company is headquartered. Using its e.GO people mover, the vehicles will initially have a driver on-board, and the purpose of the first year or two will be to collect data, and hone the system. Eventually, the autonomous-capable vehicles will roll out to other cities, as it moves towards autonomy.
Torsten and Nicole discuss what the future of robo-taxi’s look like and what the roll out of self-driving vehicles could look like in the near future.