Autoliv has developed a new vacuum braking system – called Torricelli  – developed for significantly reducing stopping distance for autonomous emergency braking (AEB). the supplier claims the innovation could revolutionise traffic safety in urban environments.

Tests have proven the Torricelli brake – a vacuum induced plate below a vehicle which sucks down into the track during emergency braking – decreases braking distances by around 40% at speeds up to 70km/h.

The technology, developed in Vårgårda, Sweden, is named after 17th century Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli known for work with vacuum and for inventing the barometer.

Many car accidents are caused by late braking with insufficient force. So some car makers offer autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems. Autoliv claims Torricelli will "radically enhance" efficiency of AEB systems by "dramatically" reducing braking distances.

The Torricelli brake is connected to the automatic braking system which in turn is rigged to detect hazards ahead. The patented solution uses a 0.3 m2 vacuum plate below the vehicle that activates in 0.1 sec and produces a downforce of 15,000 N – independently from the tyre to track friction.

This reduces stopping distances by up to 40% on wet and dry asphalt, as well as ice.

Autoliv set the maximum speed limit for activating the system at 70km/h due to the effectiveness and force of the system. This means the brake will be applicable mainly in urban environments.

Ola Boström, head of Autoliv Research, said: "The main hindrance for car manufacturer implementation of the Torricelli brake is simply that it is too efficient. In order to complement existing safety equipment, other safety details such as belt tighteners also need to be updated – due to the major braking force of the system."

"I don't want to speculate on whether the industry is ready to embrace the Torricelli brake, but so far we have showcased the system for a small number of manufacturers and we have gained substantial interest with this latest innovation. A reason pointing towards a short term, rather than long term, industry adaption is that car manufacturers today increasingly compete and gain market share based on the qualities of their safety systems."