For the new shuttle, ZF has partnered with U.S. mobility services provider Beep Inc. The agreement aims to deliver several thousand shuttles over the coming years — combining ZF’s ATS with Beep’s mobility services and service management platform into an autonomous mobility solution.
"In order 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 required," said Torsten Gollewski, ZF’s executive vice president, Autonomous Mobility Systems.
Headquartered in Florida, Beep specializes in deploying and managing autonomous shuttles for both private and public communities. The company has been testing autonomous shuttles for more than three years, with more than 100,000 road hours.
“We are excited to partner with ZF to bring their next shuttle generation to market in the United States,” said Joe Moye, CEO for Beep. “ZF’s full suite of shuttle services, its U.S. partner network, and its automotive-grade vehicle complement our turnkey mobility networks and autonomous services technology platform. This shuttle will allow us to continue to pursue our vision of extending mobility equity and reducing carbon emissions, expanding our use cases while meeting industrial requirements for vehicle service life, performance, and safety.”
ZF’s new autonomous Level 4 shuttle is equipped with sensor technology consisting of lidar, radar, camera, and audio systems that provide precise environmental detection. This is complemented by other technology like the ZF ProConnect connectivity platform, which enables communication with the infrastructure and the cloud, as well as the ZF ProAI supercomputer where data converge.
The Virtual Driver – ZF's AD software – develops safe driving strategies using artificial intelligence and passes them on as input to the on-board actuators.
With battery capacities between 50 and 100 kWh, the shuttle can cover up to 80 miles in pure electric mode – at a maximum speed of initially 25 miles per hour, in further development of 50 mph. It offers a total passenger capacity of 22, with up to 15 seated. The interior is customizable in layout and trim level.
These autonomous, electric ZF shuttles can operate on defined routes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
With ZF’s rollout of autonomous shuttle systems, the company is looking at the future development of public transport.
"This is true to our strategy of bringing autonomous driving at Level 4 into operational use first with commercial vehicles and shuttles,” said Gollewski. “Autonomous transport systems are no longer a vision. We are starting with the implementation."