ZF, a major transmission and axle supplier both for the trucking and automotive sectors, last week showed off on a test track in Germany an advanced concept tractor-trailer that employs a number of futuristic systems that ZF predicts will be central to the trucking industry’s evolution in the coming decades.
Perhaps chief among the concept truck’s next-generation systems are its hybrid electric-diesel drivetrain and its Highway Driver Assist automated driving system, which enables the truck to pilot itself in on-highway use by steering, accelerating and braking/decelerating on its own.
The hybrid drivetrain runs exclusively on electric power at speeds below 30 mph.
The Innovation Truck 2016, as ZF has named it, also uses an automated backing system that allows drivers to exit the truck in docking situations and remotely back the vehicle to a dock.
Lastly, the concept truck is equipped with the new Evasive Maneuver System built via a partnership between ZF and WABCO, giving the DAF XF the ability to autonomously brake and steer to avoid rear-end collisions.
The concept truck is a European model — a DAF XF — but the tech it’s meant to show off will be used in all markets, ZF says, and quicker than many may think. “Our focus is 2025,” says ZF’s CEO Sefan Sommer. “We have to rethink the architecture of automobiles to have new concepts and new technologies.”