ZF signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China-based NIO for the development of steer-by-wire (SbW) products and other fields. Both companies have also agreed to establish an instant information sharing mechanism to deepen communication and conduct regular technical exchanges to jointly engage in industry-leading processes and quality standards.
Meanwhile, ZF and NIO plan to extend their collaboration to brand promotion, product marketing, technology and quality enhancements, as well as customer service.
The signing of this agreement marks the first time that ZF Group cooperates with a customer in the steer-by-wire business in the Asia Pacific region, and it also marks that the two sides will jointly promote the evolution and development of technology within many fields such as autonomous driving and electrification.
With SbW, there is no longer a mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the steering gear. The intermediate steering shaft (the column) is no longer required. Traditionally, this shaft transmits the control movement to the steering gear of the front axle. The new system uses an electromechanical actuator between the wheels as the sole source of the steering force. The actuator now ensures wheel deflection in the depths of the chassis. The driver's commands make their way there electronically “by wire”.
The commands come from a steering wheel actuator in the cockpit. The actuator has sensors that detect the rotation, but it also has its own drive. The system reproduces the natural steering feel and feedback from the road.