While ABS prevents the wheels from blocking during braking, and traction control stops the wheels from spinning on acceleration, ESP goes one step beyond the functions of both these systems. In this interview, Matthew Beecham talked with Continental AG’s Steffen Koenig and Wilfried Mehr about trends in electronic braking systems.
Steffen Koenig is Technical Programme Manager, Commercial Business Development Electronic Brake Systems, Continental AG and Wilfried Mehr is Head of Business Development, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Passive Safety & ADAS / Chassis & Safety, Continental AG.
just-auto: What trends are you seeing in OEMs’ strategies with regard to electronic braking system functions?
Steffen Koenig: The major effects we are currently focusing on are all kind of drivetrains, e.g. hybrid and electric cars with new requirements like high efficient recuperation, less or no vacuum, stop and start of the engine in different situations as well as further approaches to reducing CO2. Together with a growing market of comfort and safety functions like as our Automatic Cruise Control, Parking Assistant as well as pre- and post-crash braking, these trends demand high durability and brake performance.
In addition, modern platforms contain new hardware and software functions without dedicated host systems and small control units. For both, the electronic brake system may offer a flexible integration platform in order to save cost and packaging space.
In the growing segment of affordable cars, the challenge is [to develop] a brake system that provides all state-of-the-art safety functionality for a suitable price.
What are the most cost-effective electronic braking systems to implement?
Steffen Koenig: The size and bandwidth of today’s car platforms are so high that a single electronic brake system is normally not cost-effective. The key is a modular and scalable brake system that combines the advantages of a best fitting technical solution for each platform cluster with the volume effects for common subsystems and small application costs for the variants.
For smaller platforms like in the emerging markets, the application and validation costs as well as the shorter development timing are the most critical factors. Here, we can offer already validated off-the-shelf products which can be applied with minimum effort.
A new situation is the upcoming hybrid and electric car generation where functionalities are integrated or moved into other systems. For example, the concept to use a vacuum pump with a conventional booster or replace both components by an electronic brake system. Here, the borders of the cost analyses are defined for each approach.
After automated braking becomes mandatory, the pressure to introduce automated collision avoidance systems seems likely to increase. What are the technical challenges the industry must overcome?
Wilfried Mehr: The supplier must provide further cost reduction while improving packaging and serviceability.
While radar-prompted braking technology has its merits, are there issues about the ability of drivers to accept and use an array of emerging technologies?
Wilfried Mehr: We see no difference in the market development we have experienced in the past with the introduction of anti-lock brakes, airbags and ESC.
Is there a concern that the continual evolution of fool-proof cocoons discourages drivers from accepting personal responsibility and improving their driving skills?
Wilfried Mehr: No. We’ve got so many examples of life saving, life comfort increasing products, not just in the automotive, which didn’t end up in over-reliance or carelessness. Note that active safety systems support driving just in case of emergency. Nobody will get used to this kind of risky driving by purpose.
How do you see the acceptance of advanced braking technologies in emerging markets?
Wilfried Mehr: We have to distinguish the markets. China will catch-up fast because of the increasing fleet and the resulting increase of serious accidents. We expect a huge demand for active safety. In other countries with similar market-behaviour it will be the same although the demand may rise a little bit slower.