Knorr Bremse Approaching the ramp with radar and camera

Foto: Knorr Bremse, A. Wolf

Truck supplier Knorr-Bremse counts on system expertise for automated driving.

Trans aktuell: Dr. Laier, how far has Knorr-Bremse come with semi-autonomous and autonomous driving?

We have been delivering systems for driver assistance for considerable time now – and these are the gateway to automated driving. Think of the ACC-systems, the emergency brake assistant, or the lane departure warning system. We will continue consequently on this path to develop systems for automated driving.

What will we see of this on the IAA?

We will present a turning assistant system, which reduces the risk of accidents in right turns within city limits. This system registers the relevant area and warns the driver of an imminent collision. Furthermore, we will present a concept called Autonomous Yard Maneuvering. With this system, a truck is able to move around a closed, private area, for example a harbor or haulage yard, completely autonomously. This relieves the driver; he will be able to perform other tasks or take his rest periods. This system, which operates with a combination of radar and cameras, is so far developed that we can detect obstacles on the truck’s route and automatically bring the truck to a stop. We will be expanding the areas driver assistance and automated driving, have recently added a fifth managing director for this very purpose, and, in coordination with our clients, are currently drawing up a roadmap with all the features we’re planning to develop in the near future.

Are you thinking of anything specific?

Everyone’s talking about the Highway Pilot – the truck that drives down the motorway and handles everything automatically. That will certainly become reality, but it involves a very large step. We have to cut all connected features into separate "pieces", develop these independantly, and then put them back together again. This will certainly require evasive maneuvering-, roadwork- and traffic jam assistants.

Talking about traffic jam assistant and rear-impact collisions – doesn’t Knorr-Bremse already have the technology that would prevent such accidents?

These accidents are terrible; we must all continue to work on reducing the risk of them. And we are able provide the technology to do so. Here at Knorr-Bremse, we are testing systems which brake the truck in an emergency break function from 80 kilometers per hour to zero in front of an obstacle.

What would have to change beyond that?

It’s certainly necessary to continue to make the combination "truck and driver" as safe as possible. This includes meticulous monitoring as well as fast penetration of the previously mentioned assistant systems. These are all things we must support.

Shouldn’t the legislature be involved as well?

The legislature is surely an important partner. But when you look to North America, for example, security systems are establishing themselves without being mandated. An example on the market there is the system Wingman Fusion of our trademark Bendix. ESP is also taking root despite not being mandated. The reason is that fleet managers calculate the cost of these systems against the costs of accidents they could have prevented. It’s a tight collaboration between manufacturors, suppliers, drivers and legislature, to find ways and means for more traffic safety.

Is your company on a purchasing spree at the moment?

We have been acquiring constantly throughout the last decades. With our youngest acqusitions, tedrive Steering Systems, the GT Group, as well as Bosch’s transmission components business in Japan, we continue on our forward course and are sure to provide an attractive portfolio as well as new features with these acquisitions.
But our growth is achieved by organic expansion and the continued development of our own products. That we’re not yet at the end of the road with our three acquisitions is also obvious. We will continue to keep our eyes and ears open.

So it’s not about buying revenue for you?

We don’t buy revenue but companies that fit our portfolio and that expand our range of systems offered. A typical example is the purchase of the steering company tedrive Steering Systems. The topic automated driving is changing the industry, whereby brake and steering fit together perfectly. These are the key features of controlling a vehicle’s driving dynamics. For this reason, the steering is a logical addition with which we can utilize tedrive’s market access and Knorr’s worldwide footprint. Tedrive offers an attractive environment here. On the other hand, we can demonstrate automated driving features with tedrive’s component "steering" as electrohydraulic superimposed steering system, and thereby expand our system offers once again.

Which brake innovations will you be presenting at the IAA?

We will be presenting an entirely new system for the electronic brake called Global Scaleable Brake Control (GSBC) that was also developed as a basic platform for features of automated driving. We are introducing a new disc brake that realizes our clients’ required clamping force. All this with a considerably lower weight that saves up to 16 kilograms per truck. In combination with special discs and other parts, the weight reduction can easily rise to double that amount. Its design offers all requirements to be outfitted with further sensors and actuators that are necessary for extended features for automated driving or for condition based maintenance.  

How’s the joint workshop concept Alltrucks & Trailer Service with Bosch and ZF coming along?

By now we have over 210 workshops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, which have contractually committed themselves to Alltrucks. We’re now adding the Netherlands, so that we can roll out the concept Europe-wide step by step. What our partners are currently especially excited about are the multiple-brand diagnostic systems. Furthermore, we work together with the ADAC’s Truck-Service 24.   

And how’s your collaboration in China working out?

Our joint venture with Dongfeng, the largest truck manufacturer in China, is extremely successful. Proven by the fact that we have recently recieved a large contract from Dongfeng. I see this as a great success. Our activities in Dalian are also developing well; we are growing significantly faster than the rest of the market. Knorr-Bremse has invested approximately 90 million euros in their new development center. This is the largest single investment in the history of our company.  

What are your goals there?

We deliberately built a joint development center for both commercial- and rail vehicles. We are convinced that both divisions can fertilize each other while developing the next generation brake systems.  

Aren’t those fairly different technological worlds coming together?

Not necessarily. For one, compressed-air operated brake systems exist in both commercial- and rail vehicles. Also, a blending of different brake systems occurs in both divisions: in commercial vehicles we have the engine brake, the exhaust brake, the retarder and the friction brake. Next to the friction brake, the rail sector also utilizes the dynamic brake as well as the eddy current brake. The greatest difference is obviously the friction pairing of tyres and road as well as the usually steel on steel for rails. Yet a lot of similarities remain that allow a takeover of technologies from rail- to commercial vehicles and vice versa.  

How will things proceed with the operating system ITAP?

What we’ll be presenting with our information- and operating system for the trailer, is the wireless connection of ITAP with a camera, for example to monitor the cargo hold or grant a view behind the vehicle.

What role will the "Internet of Things" play?

With the "Internet of Things", we ultimately mean a connectivity of things that are able to receive and send local information. This plays a vital role in our product- as well as our production-technological environment. It will be relevant for the so called platooning, which is based on car-to-car communication. With this, we are able to perform connectivity starting at the subcontractor chain and going all the way to our clients, and therefore also continue to optimize the logistics. The topics human-machine cooperation or maintenance-when-necessary are also a part of this – the field is large. It poses great challenges, but also offers many possibilities. We see it as an opportunity!

Exhibition stand in hall 17, A 30 and offers in exterior area "New Mobility World Live".

Personal details:
·Graduate engineer with focus on mechanical engineering, degree course in Schweinfurt and Stuttgart
·Professional stations at the Fraunhofer Institute (IPA) in Stuttgart, at Continental in Frankfurt and Tokio, at Osram Licht in Munich and at Benteler International in Salzburg.
·Board member, responsible worldwide for commercial vehicle systems at Knorr-Bremse since 2016

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