The future of braking: Electromechanical braking

Regenerative braking, automatic braking systems and self-driving vehicles are terms that have been splashed across news articles for the past decade as manufacturers work tirelessly to advance the world of driving. With nearly every element of our daily lives evolving to have at least one digital component to it, what does the future of braking look like for everyday driving?

This article will explore what consumers are calling for in the future of braking and how manufacturers are responding. What exactly is the long-term plan for braking systems?

The future of braking includes more technology.The future of braking includes more technology.

Braking systems today

To know where braking systems are headed, we need to understand where they are now. Brakes are one of the most important functions of a vehicle's safety system. Brakes are often not highlighted as much as horsepower, handling or acceleration, but they play an essential role in a vehicle's performance rating.

Braking is undergoing a dynamic evolution, just like the rest of key systems included in the vehicles on the market today.  Improving safety measures and the overall efficiency of the vehicle is at the core of all innovative car technology. In this case, the future goal of vehicle braking systems is to develop intelligent, integrated braking systems.

Systems to date have primarily focused on mechanical functionality with hydraulic power transmission and vacuum brake boosters. Electronic safety, such as automatic braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) systems, are integrated into vehicles to actively contribute to driver intervention during dangerous situations.

Future braking can help reduce CO2 emissions as well as lower particle emissions during friction braking. Overall, the future of braking needs to be electronically enabled and avoid contributing to environmental concerns.

The next generation of braking

Along with technological advancements, making vehicles lighter is another focus for the future. Lighter vehicles mean less drag as the vehicle brakes. Reduced weight also limits wear on the tires and brake pads over time, thus reducing the littering of debris.

Reducing the vehicle's drag could involve developing individual braking for the electronic stability program (ESP) systems. Making a brake system more modular and scalable will be the solution to reducing drag on the vehicle.

Continental believes that the hydraulic system could eventually be eliminated if "all four wheel brakes could be actuated electromechanically and would thus be completely 'dry'. The current focus on pressure generation and modulation with appropriate control intelligence would then no longer be necessary." They aim to replace the hydraulic system with software functions that run on high-performance computers.

To get there, vehicles now use brake-by-wire systems known as electromechanical braking (EMB). Because there is no hydraulic fluid in an EMB brake system, they are easier to assemble, less harmful to the environment and less complex than hydraulic brakes. There is no physical connection between the EMB units and the actual brake pedal, so it's quieter on the road and doesn't produce reverberation back through the vehicle.

Continental noted that the electronically controlled MK C1 master cylinder can lock the brakes within 150 milliseconds, which is twice as quick as traditional vacuum-operated systems. Not only is an EMB system more efficient, it is safer as well.

Generally, consumers are looking for lighter brake designs that are low-cost and can be optimized for scaling software integrations.

As technology continues to accelerate toward the future, braking systems will continue to incur close speculation as manufacturers work to improve autonomous driving. While flying vehicles are still a hopeful next step, self-driving automation is closer than we imagine. Everyone in the industry is invested in ensuring the streets of the future are safe, innovative and sustainable.

Greening Testing Laboratories is a fully certified brake testing lab that provides a variety of brake testing services worldwide. Contact Greening for a complimentary consultation.