The main improvements in braking systems in recent years have come from electronic controls – ABS, to ESC to brake-by-wire. Continuing just-auto’s series of interviews with tier one suppliers, Matthew Beecham spoke to Felix Bietenbeck, Head of Business Unit Vehicle Dynamics and Dr. Sören Kirchner, Head of Segment Electronic Parking Brakes, both part of Continental’s Chassis & Safety Division about trends in the electronic braking system market.

The automatic emergency braking (AEB) market has taken off over the last few years. Did that surprise you? How do you see its roll out in BRIC countries?

Felix Bietenbeck: In my opinion remarkable improvements in safety have been achieved in recent decades. This has been made possible by the introduction of mandatory equipment levels for new vehicles, including technologies such as ABS [anti-lock braking system], ESC [electronic stability control] and AEB. ESC is widely considered to be the most important car safety development since the seat belt. In the European Union, where ESC became mandatory for passenger cars from 2011 (since 2013 for all vehicles), it is now mandatory in Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and will soon also be in Argentina.

Since November 2013 the Emergency Brake Assist is in the EU for all new types of heavy trucks and buses required. From November 2015 on it is required for all new heavy trucks and buses. For passenger cars this legal obligation is not within sight. Also in the BRIC countries there is no obligation of AEB in sight.

Continental partners the global campaign “Stop the Crash” which is an information campaign to highlight the importance of ESC, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Motorcycle ABS, as well as correct tyre pressures and tread depth. It was officially launched in Brazil in November 2015. The aim of this awareness campaign is to bring safety technologies in countries such as the BRIC.

There is a lot of attention these days on collision avoidance / mitigation. In terms of the braking system landscape, how can it be further developed?

Felix Bietenbeck: To avoid or mitigate collisions, brake assist systems become more and more important. Brake assist systems ensure maximum vehicle deceleration in emergencies, even when little force is exerted on the pedal. Brake assistants are important helpers in emergencies in which the driver reacts quickly, but does not brake strong enough, leading to longer stopping distances. The brake assist detects panic situations based on the speed at which the pedal is pressed and activates the booster or the EBS [electronic braking system] hydraulic unit. This means that even when little force is exerted on the pedal, the vehicle achieves maximum deceleration.

The safety of occupants and other road users can be significantly increased with automated braking, which acts even before the driver is realising a crucial situation. These systems make use of environment and contact sensors in the vehicle, like cameras and radar sensors. Especially the forward-looking situation detection makes early and automated brake intervention possible to avoid a crash or reduce the severity of accidents. Functions such as the “post-crash braking” the automated braking of the vehicle after an accident is a further contribution to increased safety. This system uses the airbag activation as trigger for an automated brake until standstill.

Continental has developed the MK C1 electronic brake system, which is more dynamic, lighter and more compact than conventional brake systems. It delivers up to 50% more brake power for an overall faster actuation reaction and overall shorter stopping distances. Driver assistance systems require a brake system that reacts faster than existing servo-power brake systems with vacuum brake boosters. Whereas new, highly efficient diesel, gasoline and hybrid electric powertrains deliver little to no vacuum for the brake booster. The MK C1 does not need a vacuum and allows 100 percent regenerative braking and utilises power-on-demand, therefore consuming less energy.

Could you tell us a little more about the unique features of this system compared to a conventional hydraulic system?

Felix Bietenbeck: With the MK C1, the brake actuation feature (master cylinder), the brake booster and the electronic brake system (ABS, ESC) are combined into one compact, weight-saving braking module. It can build up brake pressure significantly faster than conventional hydraulic systems, thereby realising increased pressure dynamics for new advanced driver assistance systems, in order to prevent accidents and protect pedestrians. In addition, the system realises recuperative braking without any additional measures, while providing a high level of convenience for the driver.

The MK C1 has different unique features such as a reduction of the number of individual components in the braking system caused by a high level of integration. Furthermore it is ideal for the realisation of functions for assisted and automated driving.

In what ways will the fully-autonomous car change the braking system?

Felix Bietenbeck: The highly automated driving allows the driver to temporarily get rid of the driving task. This gives new tasks to the involved components. Continental offers brake extension as a solution for highly automated driving. This includes a redundant brake function for automated driving. Technically it combines the MK C1 as the primary brake system and in addition a secondary electronic brake system. This architecture is scalable and can be further adapted in the context of future trends of partially and highly automated driving.

Self-driving cars depend on making the equipment ‘smart’ with the help of software. How do you see your in-house electronics expertise adapting and / or forming more technology partnerships?

Felix Bietenbeck: We are well positioned with our business unit Advanced Driver Assistance Systems by core components for automated driving, such as surround view and other sensors. To achieve automated driving, a completely new form of cross-border cooperation is needed; we do not need to reinvent in already existing solutions by the partners. We can draw on expertise and examples already in practical use and adapt them to our needs. This saves R&D effort and helps that our jointly developed solutions are affordable for our customers.

Could you bring us up-to-date with your electronic braking business in India, specifically electric parking brake (EPB)?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto’s QUBE Global light vehicle electronic braking market- forecasts to 2030