Raising the performance of advanced braking systems to a new level of safety and comfort, TRW predicts significant volume increases in the production of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) systems which will drive down costs in the coming years. Currently available on high-end customer vehicle platforms only, TRW will work to make the VSC systems within reach of all consumers and vehicle segments, as they did with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in the `80s and `90s.

TRW's VSC is the latest in brake slip control offerings from TRW. This innovative product combines the capabilities of ABS and traction control (TC) with a new lateral stability control feature. TRW's VSC system improves vehicle handling during severe driving maneuvers, by building upon ABS and TC functions. In this system, more powerful computers are used to process and react to additional information provided by brake pressure, steering angle, lateral acceleration and yaw rate sensors.

"Why should the only the high-end consumers have this important safety feature?" asks Phil Cunningham, TRW's product business director, brake control. "This feature should be fitted on every vehicle and everyone should have the benefits of this safety system. In the not too distant future, we expect fitment rates to be at the same level as ABS is today."

With the additional access to TRW's Center of Automotive Technology (CAT) in Redondo Beach, Calif., braking systems can now benefit from the same technology used in TRW's aerospace and defense programs, such as advanced algorithm designs, and lightweight silicon materials. This capability brings together a truly unique opportunity not available to any other brake systems supplier.

TRW is already leading the charge into the new millennium with its VSC system as the company will be the first to market with VSC systems for North American-designed SUVs and minivans. In addition, the company has nine VSC contracts signed within the last 18 months with automakers around the world.

"As vehicle manufacturers become increasingly focused on safety," said Jeff Shaya, TRW's director, slip control, "we are responding by offering a product that will provide this enhanced safety at an affordable cost."

TRW's VSC system is designed to prevent an understeer condition from limiting the turning capabilities of the vehicle and to prevent an oversteer condition from occurring and causing the vehicle to spin out. For example, to assist a driver in avoiding a potentially dangerous oversteer condition when navigating a steep curve, the VSC controller might subtly apply the brakes of certain wheels and instruct the engine to decelerate in order to improve control. By reducing engine drive torque and applying brake pressure to one or more of the wheel ends, the turning capabilities of the vehicle for the given road conditions can be effected ensuring that the vehicle remains stable and tracks the driver's intended path.

To accomplish this, the VSC system relies on data input from additional sensors as well as the sensor information available from the ABS and TC systems. A steering angle sensor along with a pressure transducer on the master cylinder is used to determine the driver intent. A yaw rate sensor and a lateral accelerometer is used to monitor the vehicle dynamic state.

In addition, TRW's VSC system helps in potential rollover situations. The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) has been investigating rollover on trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), the sort of circumstances that TRW's VSC system is designed to help combat. As the number one ABS supplier for light trucks and SUVs in North America, TRW is well positioned to support the growing need of this new safety system.

VSC can be taken another step further in the evolution to more integrated vehicle control systems. VSC is one of TRW's core products that can lead to this revolutionary concept of full vehicle dynamic control. For example, on a vehicle equipped with TRW VSC, the addition of an active roll control (ARC) system can create significant stability and control improvements, with a 25 percent saving compared to the cost of a stand-alone ARC system - if an integrated approach is taken. Similarly, by adding and integrating other subsystems that can share electronics, sensors, and software - such as electrohydraulic braking, active body control, rear wheel steering and adaptive cruise control - TRW can increase functionality and improve performance, while minimizing complexity and cost.

TRW Inc. (NYSE: TRW) provides advanced technology products and services for the global automotive, aerospace and information systems markets. The company, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the world's largest independent automotive component suppliers. TRW Automotive produces braking systems, steering and suspension systems and aftermarket replacement parts, electronic safety and security systems, occupant restraint systems, engineered fastening systems and engine components. The company's news releases are available through TRW's corporate Web site (www.trw.com).

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