Lotus Eletre: agility through dynamics software from ZF

Lotus Eletre: agility through dynamics software from ZF

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The Eletre, the new electric vehicle of the renowned British sports car manufacturer Lotus, has recently been rolling on the roads. The suspension and dynamics functions of the nippy racer are controlled by ZF Friedrichshafen’s cubiX software.

For a pleasant driving experience, the longitudinal, lateral and vertical dynamics of a vehicle must be harmoniously coordinated. This is especially true for automated driving, when the driver turns away from active driving and comfort is in the foreground. This is where ZF’s cubiX software comes into play: it controls all chassis systems and ensures harmonious acceleration and braking, precise steering and balanced damping.

The Lotus Eletre from the Geely Group is equipped with this software. The electric SUV has been delivered to the first customers since February and should be available in Europe from the middle of the year. ZF’s software controls all chassis functions such as brakes, front and rear axle steering and active roll stabilisation as well as the sports car’s electric drive. Further production launches of the innovative ZF software will follow from 2023.

“With the series premiere of our cubiX software, we are impressively demonstrating our system expertise for the vehicle dynamics of software-defined vehicles,” says André Engelke, head of the Vehicle Motion Control system house at ZF. “We can control the entire longitudinal, lateral and vertical dynamics of the vehicle harmoniously according to Lotus’ specifications. The system know-how from the entire ZF Group meets decades of experience in the fields of braking and steering systems, active dampers and driveline technology.”

Conductor of vehicle dynamics

CubiX optimises driving behaviour with a view to comfort, dynamics and efficiency and also forms the basis for progressive driver assistance systems. As the first pure software product from the automotive supplier, cubiX offers an important advantage: the platform is compatible with various actuators such as dampers, brakes or rear axle steering – regardless of the manufacturer or the specific design. This gives OEMs the flexibility to implement different model series with one and the same control platform without additional integration effort.

Future updates or upgrades of the software can be done “over-the-air” – wirelessly and without a visit to the workshop. In this way, the software remains up-to-date throughout the vehicle’s life, meaning that additional functions can always be added after the vehicle has been delivered.

Architecture change in the software-defined vehicle

ZF sees its software as an example of the current trend towards the software-defined vehicle: away from the many individual controls of the hardware components, towards overarching domain and zone architectures. This development takes into account the increasing complexity of automotive control software. Until now, dampers, brakes or rear-axle steering have each had their own control unit that had to be integrated into the overall architecture of the vehicle at great expense.

The new electrical and electronic vehicle architectures bundle the entire software for a specific functional area of the car (domain) on a central, powerful control unit. All functions previously performed by separate ECUs distributed throughout the car are implemented in the domain computer as a software task, a “virtual ECU”.

“This overarching control saves vehicle manufacturers effort as well as compromises in fine-tuning and driving dynamics in terms of vehicle performance, comfort and efficiency. At the same time, it gives them the chance to combine complex assistance systems without any problems,” explains André Engelke. “With cubiX, we have such software that can be integrated into the new architectures.”

CubiX was developed at several ZF locations around the world (Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, UK, India and China), with the application project managed from the Asia-Pacific region.

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