Anti-Lock Braking Technology: A Historical Perspective

Article by JMA Automotive Mechanic Airport West.

When the engineers and safety executives at Volvo decided to strap passengers to their seats in 1973 and told the world that it was safer for passengers and drivers when they are strapped to their seats in the event of a collision and backed their suggestion up with experiments every automaker on the planet made a 180 degree turn towards making driver and passenger safety a priority which resulted in innovative safety implementations such as air-bags, TRC, EBD and last but not least ABS or Anti-Lock Braking Technology.

The ABS system has been acknowledged as a superb safety implementation that has saved millions of lives over the years since its introduction to the automotive world. An anti-lock braking system or anti-skid braking system is basically a system that enables the wheels of a car to maintain traction while braking by preventing the wheels of a vehicle from locking or cease its rotation which prevents the vehicle from skidding uncontrollably.

Anti-Lock Braking Technology: A Historical Perspective

The automated braking system incorporates both the principle of threshold braking and cadence braking techniques that were prior to the introduction of the ABS only applied by skilful drivers on traditional braking systems. In other words the ABS simply offers drivers better control of their vehicles during emergencies and decrease the distance required to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. The downside of the ABS is that the stopping distance on slippery surfaces or loose gravel increases the braking distance significantly, but still provides more control over the vehicles direction.

The truth is that the ABS system was actually initially developed for planes by the aviation industry before they were introduce to the automotive world during the 80s as a selling point before it was made compulsory for newly manufactured vehicles throughout the globe after the millennia based on proven experiments that the ABS actually drastically increases the possibility of avoiding accidents by giving drivers more control of their vehicles during emergencies when brakes need to be applied hard and fast as drivers would still be able to avoid obstacles which may contribute or lead to an accident.

These Anti skid brakes can be easily traced back to aircrafts that were being rolled out of assembly lines towards the end of the 40s, however these early anti skid braking systems were purely mechanical systems and the first was Dunlop Maxaret which was quickly incorporated into the Jensen FF, a British 4WD version of the company’s Interceptor grand touring coupe. The rest as they say was history.

Since the introduction of the ABS, continuous improvements have been made to the system resulting in much more efficient and advanced ABS systems being fitted into vehicles and the latest versions do not only prevent wheels from locking up when brakes are applied but the front to rear brake bias is also electronically controlled by intelligent systems known commercially as electronic brake force distribution or EBD or emergency brake assist among other terms depending on the automaker’s brand.