For evidence of how quickly things are advancing in the world of commercial vehicle braking and safety systems, here’s a quick look at a few not-too-distant mileposts in the rearview mirror:
- U.S. Reduced Stopping Distance (RSD) regulations have already been in full effect for five years.
- The U.S. Electronic Stability Control (ESC or “full stability”) mandate started to take effect in 2017 and will be in place for all Class 7 & 8 trucks and motorcoaches in August 2019, barring regulatory changes. (With full-stability technology already standard on many models at all major North American commercial vehicle manufacturers, ESC is already in place as a widespread foundational safety system.)
- More than 20 percent of North American Class 6-8 air-braked wheel-ends are now equipped with air disc brakes – a 50 percent increase in overall market share since 2013.
- Collision mitigation systems have achieved standard position on models at all major North American commercial vehicle manufacturers and are regularly spec’ed on fleets of all sizes and applications.
It’s an eventful time. And the Bendix team doesn’t see the activity surrounding technological advancements and evolution slowing down anytime soon.
For example, at the wheel-ends, we’re likely to soon see increased use of sensors to enhance maintenance and improve uptime by providing a more complete picture of the brake system. Friction wear-sensing technology, for instance, will provide real-time information on how much pad life remains, so that fleets can better plan brake jobs. Wheel-end temperature monitoring will also enable protection of some of the higher-cost components like disc rotors or hub bearings, by indicating potential issues before damage occurs.
As interest grows in the electrification of powertrains, we also expect to see more development of regenerative braking systems – brake systems that convert kinetic energy into a form that can be used immediately or stored until needed. That said, there are a number of hurdles to overcome before regenerative brakes are commercially available, especially in heavy-duty applications. The next few years will be chock full of validation, field testing, and fleet evaluations to help prove vehicle safety and return on investment in the technology.
We’re also in an age of widely available and rapidly developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including emerging platooning technologies. While controls, sensors, and computing power provide the “brains” of these safety systems, it’s important to recognize that the foundation brakes still supply the necessary “brawn” and stopping power to ensure their proper function.
Given the levels of precision and control required for capabilities like automatic emergency braking, the brakes themselves must be counted on to deliver consistent power in all situations. This makes foundation drum brake fade particularly problematic, since it can result in inconsistent stopping distances as drums heat and expand during long descents or stop-and-go traffic. Our continual lab and field testing shows that air disc brakes virtually eliminate fade, so they provide a more stable foundation for ADAS, and this is just one reason Bendix expects air disc brake adoption rates will continue to grow. (Check out this video for an example of brake fade’s impact on stopping distance.)
The components and capabilities of today’s safety systems will keep growing increasingly complex and interconnected. Bendix will continue to work together with other industry teams and manufacturers to shape tomorrow’s transportation – and keep improving highway safety.
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