Active safety features are advancing rapidly, and suppliers are always looking to outdo the competition. ZF Friedrichshafen is known for gearboxes, but it also creates drive units and active safety systems for manufacturers to slot into their cars. The Vision Zero Vehicle is designed to showcase all those technologies into the one neat package.

Headlining the active safety features in the Vision Zero Vehicle (VZV) are wrong-way inhibit and driver distraction assist. According to research quoted by ZF, around 10 percent of road fatalities are caused by distracted driving, which was also the cause of 350 deadly accidents in Germany and 3,477 fatalities in America last year. So making sure drivers keep their eyes on the road is of utmost importance.

The ZF system uses a smart laser-based interior camera to monitor the position of the driver's head behind the wheel, even in the dark. It knows when the driver looks away from the road, and warns them of danger with a message on the dashboard, an audio warning and a tighter seatbelt. The system will also take over the steering and, if the driver doesn't respond, cut power and park the car safely on the side of the road.

Along with distraction, drivers entering motorways in the wrong direction is a major cause of accidents in the US. The VZV uses its cloud-based mapping software, along with traffic signs and road markings interpreted through a front-mounted camera, to work out when drivers are headed in the wrong direction.

The first step in ZF's warning system is, once again, a visual message, an audible chime and the tightening of the seatbelt. Should the driver try to turn the wrong way down a motorway exit, the steering wheel will be much harder to turn than normal. If the driver still doesn't get the message, the car will pull to the side of the road. The driver can only drive away from the exit in reverse, or by turning around only if the car thinks there's room to safely do so.

The car being used to demonstrate all these technologies is a Volkswagen Touran fitted with ZF's modular semi-trailing arm rear suspension (mSTARS). The mSTARS setup includes a 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor, and is designed to demonstrate how existing cars can be electrified with new, third-party components.

The ZVZ will be on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

View gallery - 16 images