This German Auto Supplier Just Went All In on Future Smart Car Tech

August 4, 2016, 3:47 PM UTC
2016 North American International Auto Show
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 16: A acrylic car featuring the safety standards of the ZF Automated driving system on the opening day of the 2016 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall on January 16, 2016 in Detroit, United States.
Paul Warner — Getty Images

Auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen is seeking expansion opportunities in machine learning, semiconductors and sensor technologies as part of an aggressive push into autonomous driving and connected cars.

The unlisted German auto supplier has been on an expansion tear, launching a bid for rival TRW Automotive (TRW) in 2014, buying a 40% stake in German lidar maker Ibeo Automotive on Tuesday, and making a $515 million bid for Swedish brake systems group Haldex on Thursday.

In addition, ZF is launching an engineering center in India, hiring 1,000 staff with a goal to expand staffing to 2,500 engineers, ZF Chief Executive Stefan Sommer said in a call to discuss earnings on Thursday.

ZF is seeking to expand its expertise in the area of deep learning, the algorithms used by cars to develop the right collision avoidance reflexes by analysing data transmitted by camera and radar sensors.


ZF wants to expand its portfolio of sensor, radar and camera technologies, and develop the software algorithms which enable cars to steer, brake and accelerate without driver input as a way to gain market share in the area of self-driving technology.