Alcon Chief Engineer on the Future of Braking

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Source: The following is a LinkedIn post by Michael Jones Chief Engineer – Special Vehicles at Alcon Components Ltd on the future of braking.

TAMWORTH, U.K. – The U.K. Government has recently announced its plans to bring forward the ban of the sale of petrol and diesel cars beginning in 2030. This will accelerate the introduction of a number of key braking technologies.

The speed of change in braking has been greatly accelerating in recent years. Big innovations in brake technology have been relatively rare events. The evolution has moved from mechanical to hydraulic, disc brakes, servo assisted actuation, single sided calipers, ABS and Electronic Parking Brakes. Working out valve cut-ins and ratios, along with unusual hydraulic split systems was common for brake engineers before stability control systems started to balance things for us.

Related post:
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So, what are the main issues?

1, Emissions

With the internal combustion engine gone, the biggest emitters or harmful substances will be the tires and brakes.

2, Loss / reduction of air and vacuum systems.

Brake systems often rely upon vacuum generated from the engine for boosters or piggy backing off air systems (especially in commercial weight vehicles).

3, Range extension

More pressure will be put on brake manufacturers to reduce component weight and brake drag.

4, Increased system integration

Brake control systems will need to integrate with others around the vehicle to blend regenerative braking and autonomous control systems. The biggest challenges being on response times (to maintain stability) and fail-safes.

This is not as much of a challenge as it all sounds as the brake industry have been preparing itself to be ready for many years, as can be seen below.

1, Regenerative braking

This is a great way of extending the range of your vehicle as well as reducing emissions; by charging your battery whilst the motor(s) slow you down. The levels often available mean that the service brakes can be used less and see lower loads during heavier deceleration events. Many manufacturers are achieving up to 0.3g deceleration, though this is often variable depending upon how full the batteries are and what drive torque is being applied at the time. This not only extends the range of the vehicle but reduces the emissions and allows us to specify a smaller and lighter brake system.

2, New materials

Friction manufacturers are constantly developing new materials that increase pad life and have less harmful constituents. The drive for more levels of autonomy in vehicles, along with new control systems, means that the need for aggressive ‘sporty’ pads on road cars will reduce.

Test work is also in progress on alternative rotor materials with carbon ceramic along with cleverly coated aluminum starting to be used on vehicles. They have been developed to reduce wear, as well as being lighter in weight.

3, Advanced control systems

Disconnecting the brake pedal from the hydraulic system allows the electronics to optimize the brake event. A well introduced brake-by-wire system should not be noticeable by the driver and will actually improve the experience rather than give them a feeling of reduced control. When combined with autonomous systems and regenerative braking, the hydraulic components can be lighter in weight and be used less often.

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The loss of air and vacuum systems will lead to more brake-by-wire controlled hydraulic systems.

4, Autonomous vehicles

It may still be a long time before we are all being driven by autonomous vehicles; the delays will more likely be from lawyers and insurance brokers than by engineers.

The brakes themselves will be used less often if the vehicle is controlled to operate only within the law. We design brakes to enable safe performance from the vehicle’s maximum speed, not the legal maximum speed for the road. The brakes can be much smaller if the vehicle is limited to 70mph as well as being used less due to less driver created congestion.

In conclusion, the brake industry is a key contributor to the coming revolution in vehicle technology.

And we’re ready for the challenge.

The entire post can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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