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ZF reveals ‘flying carpet 2.0’ smart chassis control system

ZF has revealed its Flying Carpet 2.0 chassis control system which it claims can isolate drivers from the impact of potholes and more.

With the world’s car makers pushing towards autonomous driving, ZF has revealed its Flying Carpet 2.0 chassis control system which it claims can disconnect vehicle occupants almost entirely from the impact of potholes and more.

The system’s central computer receives data from sensors on each wheel. This set is comprised of an accelerometer on the axle above the actuator; and a height sensor. In conjunction with camera systems, a vehicle equipped with Flying Carpet 2.0, ZF said, can detect irregularities in advance and can also detect obstacles and objects like road traffic signs. Accordingly, the “actuators can also prepare for forthcoming movements. And when leaving residential areas, the car automatically switches to sports performance or comfort mode depending on the driver’s preferences”. Impressive.

The company which recently demonstrated a predictive external air bag for cars, claims its smart chassis control system will allow travellers to arrive at their destination “without feeling worn down to the bone”. ZF also said the suspension system would allow the occupants of autonomous vehicles to either work, read or watch a movie without being upset by the condition of the road – “all of those productive or relaxing activities that are prohibited in a manually driven vehicle, and which are among the potential benefits of autonomous driving,” the company said.

Flying Carpet 2.0 chassis control system

“In the development leading to fully automated and autonomous driving, the chassis has a key role to play,” explained Dr Christoph Elbers, Vice President of Car Chassis Technology Development at ZF.

“With our Flying Carpet 2.0, we have developed a chassis concept capable of helping to control nearly all longitudinal, transverse, and vertical movements of the vehicle.” The appropriately named Flying Carpet 2.0 system disconnects vehicle occupants almost entirely from the impact of potholes, bumps in the road, tight bends, or abrupt braking manoeuvres.

Flying Carpet 2.0 chassis control system
Above: This pictures shows the body roll on the uneven road when Flying Carpet 2.0 is deactivated while the (below) photo shows Flying Carpet 2.0 activated and levelling at the body.

Flying Carpet 2.0 chassis control system

So, how does the system work? It uses a bunch of active and semi-active systems to predictively smooth out ‘unwanted’ vehicle body movements. These sensors are based around ZF’s sMotion fully active damper set-up which uses four actuators to adapt the suspension movements of each individual wheel according to the driving situation and road surface features.

Here’s how ZF describes it: “Unlike conventional dampers, the sMotion actuators respond to incoming stimuli by doing more than just controlling hydraulic resistance levels. Instead, they have a very compact, external electric motor and pump unit with integrated electronics that works as a bi-directional actuator. These units can elevate wheels upward together or push them downwards, individually and actively. When cornering, for example, the two inner wheels can be retracted and the outer ones extended so that the passenger car remains virtually horizontal. sMotion helps counteract the pitching, rolling, and lifting movements that can occur when accelerating, braking, steering, or when driving over bumps in the road”.

The Flying Carpet 2.0 system also incorporates rear-wheel steering which works at low-speed by steering front and rear wheels in opposite directions while at-speed they steer in the same direction.

Because ZF supplies an entire package, it claims it can create algorithms to coordinate all driving conditions and then adapt them to suit the vehicle type and the manufacturer.

“We supply all chassis components from a single source: active damping, front and rear axle steering, and the brakes. That places us in the unique position of being able to match the control of these components by algorithm in an ideal manner, combining them to form a predictive and responsive system. The system integration and smart, connected mechatronic systems make the vehicle fit for the autonomous urban traffic of the future”, said Dr Elbers.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober