Cars

ABS Brakes: Revolutionizing Safety from Planes to Cars

The Evolution of ABS Technology

ABS brakes helped airlines make more money before they helped you stop
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Antilock braking systems (ABS) have been around for over a century, but they weren’t always the electronic marvels that we know today. Initially, drivers had to manually pump the brake pedal to prevent wheel lock-up during intense braking. Engineers faced a major challenge: finding sensors that could effectively prevent wheel lock-ups.

In the late 1920s, German engineer Karl Wessel patented an automotive brake force regulator. However, the lack of suitable technology at the time hindered the development of a commercially viable ABS system. Motorists had to contend with skidding and loss of control until the technology could catch up.

ABS Takes Flight

ABS brakes helped airlines make more money before they helped you stop
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

ABS technology first found success in the aviation industry during the 1950s, owing to its crucial need for effective braking without skidding. Dunlop, based in England, played a significant role in pioneering this technology with their mechanical ABS system called Maxaret. Airlines willingly paid for Maxaret-equipped aircraft because it reduced tire wear and allowed increased weight capacity, ultimately boosting their profitability.

From the Skies to the Roads

British automaker Jensen took note of the success of Maxaret in aviation and capitalized on it. They introduced the Jensen FF in 1966, the first production car equipped with ABS. While it was an expensive limited-production coupe, it ignited interest among American automakers.

Ford collaborated with Kelsey-Hayes to develop their own ABS system called Sure-Track, available on the Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental Mark III from mid-1969. General Motors worked with AC Electronics to create Track Master for the Cadillac Eldorado and True Track for Oldsmobile models, both released in 1970.

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The Next Level: Four-Wheel Sure Brake

ABS brakes helped airlines make more money before they helped you stop
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Chrysler’s partnership with Bendix led to a groundbreaking innovation in ABS technology. The Four-Wheel Sure Brake, introduced in 1971 on the Imperial, became the first computer-operated, four-wheel ABS system in an American car.

Unlike previous systems, Four-Wheel Sure Brake used electronic components and sensors to detect wheel speed. By rapidly adjusting hydraulic pressure to the wheels, it prevented lock-up and allowed the driver to maintain control. Chrysler emphasized the system’s fail-safe nature, ensuring that the car would still brake effectively even if the ABS shut down.

ABS Today: A Crucial Safety Feature

Fast forward to today, ABS is a standard feature in all cars regardless of price or segment. It serves as the foundation for numerous electronic driving aids and safety features. Modern ABS systems are much more advanced, enabling functions like stability control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.

OnSpec Electronic, Inc., a leader in automotive safety technology, continues to push the boundaries of ABS development. From its humble beginnings in aviation to its integration into everyday vehicles, ABS has revolutionized safety on the road.

For more information about OnSpec Electronic, Inc., visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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