Future of Brakes from Continental

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FRANKFURT, Germany – Continental recently posted a three-part series of articles on its website providing its vision of future braking systems. Below is part one: The Future of Brakes – Brake Systems of the Future

Brake systems are becoming increasingly intelligent so they can meet the future needs and requirements of automated driving and electrification, and this in newly conceived vehicles designed with modified architecture. This functional extension requires a profound understanding of the system in order to combine uncompromising safety and sustainability in future brake systems – and in the long term also modular and distributed brake systems.

Vehicle Architecture is changing

First of all, regardless of the architecture of vehicles and future brake systems, brakes remain the single most important element of active driving safety. Reliability is the name of the game here, and compromises are one thing brake manufacturers do not make. This mindset among the experts and the know-how that has grown over decades will become even more important in the future when it comes to equipping brakes for future requirements and maintaining absolute trust in them: The importance and appreciation of braking as a function remain untouched. Yet, just about everything else is beginning to change.

Brake systems are becoming increasingly intelligent so they can meet the future needs and requirements of automated driving and electrification, and this in newly conceived vehicles designed with modified architecture.

Vehicles are currently being reconceived. Global megatrends are driving these efforts: Vehicle architecture is changing with the electrification of the powertrain and the growing capabilities of automated driving (AD). Digitalization and connectivity are fundamentally realigning the electrical and electronic architecture (E/E architecture) of vehicles, which is increasingly based on software – because it’s the software that, in the future, will define the character of cars and the driving experience! Bits take the place of horsepower. Apps and services are expanding the car into an immersive experience that’s steadily becoming safer and more comfortable.

What does this all mean for brakes? Changes – and, in part, radical changes in the long term! Looking back helps us understand that brake systems to date have primarily been mechanical systems with vacuum brake boosters and hydraulic power transmission from the brake pedal to the wheel brake (entailing pressure generation, valves, lines, brake calipers and drum brakes). Electronic safety systems such as ABS and ESC ensure that brakes proactively contribute to driving safety in borderline situations even without driver intervention. At the same time, brakes must now also contribute to vehicle efficiency – in other words, help prevent CO2 emissions – and, in future, reduce particulate emissions during friction braking.

With digitalization and connectivity, electric drives and AD capabilities, brake systems must therefore fulfill a broad number of additional tasks. To this end, Continental, as a long-standing, globally-proven brake system specialist, is developing future brake system technologies: Future Brake Systems (FBS). A journey into the future of brakes, and an innovation roadmap outlining a far-reaching, step-by-step transformation.

The future began in 2016, and is now reality on the road

The first electrohydraulic brake-by-wire MK C1 brake system developed by Continental went into production back in 2016. It takes up less installation space, consists of fewer components, is lighter and, most importantly, thanks to electromechanical actuation, it builds up brake pressure faster than any conventional hydraulic system – in just 150 ms. This brake system does not require any brake booster and also no longer requires a vacuum pump. This FBS stage (FBS 0) marks the entry into brake-by-wire systems. By decoupling the brake pedal from the physical actuation system, body force is no longer required for effective emergency braking. Unlike systems with a brake booster, dosage of the maximum braking power does not depend on the force in the foot as with the MK C1, meaning that even those who are physically untrained can effortlessly initiate full braking.

But the MK C1 from Continental also achieves something else: In vehicles powered by electric motors, when pressing the brake pedal, the driver cannot tell whether the wheel brake is active, or whether the electric motor is operating regeneratively and decelerating the vehicle as desired while generating electricity in the process (recuperation). The pedal always feels the same because the pedal response (i.e. “pedal feel”) is constantly simulated. Intelligent brake systems do not necessarily do what drivers directly request, but rather what they intend to do: deceleration. This constitutes a major advance in vehicle efficiency that “burns” as little of the vehicle’s kinetic energy as possible on the wheel brakes, as this energy is then lost. Starting with the MK C1, the energy recuperation potential can be fully exploited. With an additional module based on the tried-and-tested ESC technology, automated driving according to SAE Level 3 is also possible. For this purpose, all that needs to be adjusted with the MK C1 is the functional scope of the software, which results in very low integration outlay on the part of automotive manufacturers.

In its first production application, the MK C1 system from 2016 still has what is known as a “hydraulic fallback mode”: If a fault occurs (such as complete failure of the onboard electrical system), two valves automatically switch and the driver’s foot pressure generates brake pressure. However, the MK C1 can be used just as well without the hydraulic fallback mode.

To view the entire from Continental article, click HERE.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.