Many of the intelligent camera safety systems, automatic implement hitching and electric drive techniques previewed at last year’s Agritechnica were developed by ZF, and this company has now packaged them all into its Innovation Tractor. Designed to demonstrate how safety, comfort and efficiency can be enhanced by applying intelligent systems from the passenger car and commercial vehicle segments to off-highway vehicles, the Innovation Tractor brings together in a test prototype all the new functions ZF believes are practical for agricultural and construction applications. “The focus is on demonstrating what is already possible and technically feasible today, but sets a benchmark on future innovation,” says Dr Harald Naunheimer who heads up ZF’s R+D department. This package of future innovation includes six cameras mounted on the driver’s cab and hood to monitor the surroundings. A computer analyses the pictures and generates a surround-view image of the immediate environment. The driver can view this image on a tablet from various perspectives, including a bird’s-eye view. It is also possible to operate the tractor via mobile devices operated outside the driver’s cab, which has paved the way for the company to develop a hitch detection function. This uses a camera to detect the exact position and angle of the relevant implement in relation to the tractor by using special targets installed on the trailer or implement. The position is continuously measured during the hitching process and the angle of the steered wheels corrected. The Innovation Tractor reverses automatically until it reaches the optimum position for hitching, which is then done by hand. The pedestrian detection function helps ensure the Innovation Tractor works as safely as possible while using the tablet for maneuvering and hitching. The cameras detect pedestrians located between the vehicle and trailer and this information, along with the individual’s location, is displayed on the tablet. If the person controlling the tractor fails to respond, the system stops the vehicle. The interrupted hitching process can only be restarted once there is no one between the tractor and trailer. The electric steering system required for automatic driving functions comes courtesy of ZF’s Terramatic transmission and Terra+ generator module. Providing up to 60kW of continuous electrical power and serves as the power source for the trailer’s wheel motors, the company claims the traction management system enables vehicles to set off with perfect traction control on uphill gradients of up to 30 percent. Finally, ZF reckons to be one of the first to introduce autonomous driver assist systems (DAS) across all vehicle segments. “Our systems expertise enables us to combine established stand-alone systems to create a network so we can make vehicles see, think and act,” says Dr Naunheimer.