Brakes have progressed from the primitive wooden block against wheel system to today’s highly sophisticated technologies like mechanical, hydraulic to even brake-by-wire. Instead of mechanical force applied through the brake pedal, today’s advanced brake by wire technology uses electrical and electronic controls to actuate brakes and apply just the right pressure to bring the vehicle to a safe halt. Although the technology has changed over time dramatically, the basic principle of brake application remains the same.
The genesis of brake by wire lies in the aerospace industry. Brake by wire renders superfluous a number of mechanical components like pumps, hoses, fluid, belts and vacuum servos, thus making the aircraft lighter. Besides, the electronic braking system is far more reliable and has a number of safety and redundancy features. The same principles were transplanted to the automotive field resulting in development of electronic based hydraulic and pneumatic braking systems with mechanical systems included as backup.
However, the first electronic based four wheel braking system could probably have been developed by Bosch and Mercedes Benz. Their joint cooperation resulted in a brake system fitted to the Mercedes S class in 1978 leading to further developments in 2006 in the Brake Distronic Plus system that used radar to sense distance between vehicles and bring the vehicle to a stop even if driver does not actuate the brakes.
The main components of a BBW are:
Memory that is integrated with the ECU.
Advanced systems may employ clamp force sensors as well as other sensors to sense distance of vehicles in front or rear and automatically apply brakes.
Brake by wire is touted as the braking system of the future. However, implementation is still slow while costs have yet to come down to affordable levels, especially in sophisticated systems such as the Sensotronic by Bosch.