Evolution of Brake by Wire

CHATHAM, Mass. – Brake-by-wire (BBW), broadly defined as braking that can be applied without the driver’s physical input, has been offered on production vehicles for more than a decade.

Virtually every automotive manufacturer and brake supplier is invested in continuing development of brake-by-wire systems, evolving from today’s which incorporate hydraulic pressure interaction with friction brakes to tomorrow’s dry systems utilizing electric signals to provide the impetus for the friction brakes to operate.

BrakeLine spoke with several automakers and brake suppliers to find out about the latest in brake-by-wire technology including predictions on when the industry would see the introduction of dry versions.

The consensus: dry brake-by-wire systems would be in production by the middle of the decade. Hal Felch, Ford Motor Company’s global head of braking technology, predicted we would see dry systems by 2025 as did Alessandro Monzani, Head of Application Sensify & Mechatronics Platform Management of Brembo S.p.A., who indicated Brembo’s Sensify system would be ready about then.

Dan Milot, ZF Senior Vice President Brake Engineering, pegged the timeframe at 2026, 2027, while Hitachi Astemo said its most advanced BBW solution – Smart Brake – should be on the market by 2028.

Ilya Rifqi, Head of Chassis Engineering – Stellantis, would not speculate on a specific timeframe, but summarized many of the factors behind the drive for dry BBW.

“Brake by wire is a significant step in the move towards a higher level of autonomous driving’” he explained. “It also enables advantages for packaging, maintenance and environment impacts through the removal of brake fluid.”

By the beginning of the last decade, brake-by-wire began making an impact on the automotive landscape, first in hybrid vehicles.

The Hyundai America Technical Center (HATCI), defining BBW “as a brake system which “decouples the brake pedal from the hydraulic system during normal operation and controls deceleration based on electronic signal input and not physical force exerted by the driver,” indicated this system – called Integrated Electronic Brake or IEB by Hyundai — appeared on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and now is part of every Hyundai Motor Group (HMG — Hyundai, Kia, Genesis) electrified vehicle.

According to the Korean OEM, electrified vehicles, hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and battery-electric vehicles receive major benefits from this form of “wet” BBW.

“The most significant benefit is the ability to seamlessly blend regenerative and friction braking within a stop on electrified vehicles allowing a very high level of kinetic energy recapture. Commonality is another major benefit with a single IEB module able to be used with multiple brake systems, powertrains and across multiple vehicle platforms requiring only software differentiation.

The rest of this article can be found in the April 2024 issue of BrakeLine magazine. Subscribe to our mailing list to download your free copy.

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The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.