German University Creates Wireless Disc Brake, Works 99.999999999997% of the Time

saarland university creates prototype wireless disc brake for bicycles and mountain bikesSaarland University has created a completely wireless electronic braking system and is testing it on a cruiser bicycle.

First, some hearsay: At all the industry tradeshows and press launches we attend, inevitably people spout opinions on electronic brakes. While there are arguably negligible weight savings to be had over the top hydraulic systems, the real concern we’ve heard is liability over the potential loss of power. All that aside, we love it when people push outside the box and beyond comfort zones because that’s where groundbreaking innovation occurs. So, here we go:

We’ve shown you quite a bit of German engineering lately, and this wireless braking system comes from the land of brats and beer, too. Designed by computer scientists and tested on aircraft control systems equipment, Professor Holger Hermanns (pictured) says it works with “acceptable” reliability, registering failures just 3 out of every trillion braking attempts.

Making something work wirelessly these days isn’t exactly breaking news, though. What’s extra unique is the way they’ve made it work. Rather than a standard brake lever, the rider simply squeezes the grip. It’s pressure sensitive, so the harder the rider squeezes, the more braking force is applied.

The wireless connection between sender and receiver is accomplished with TDMA, MyriaNed wireless nodes, and the 2.4 GHz ISM band. The components send communicate between each other in a mere 150 milliseconds. Add in the control “lever” and the time from squeeze to braking is just 250 milliseconds. The electronic signals activate an actuator, which mechanically works the brakes.

Communication is redundant, too, with multiple braking signals sent simultaneously to improve reliability. Looking forward, Saarland University is looking to take the concept to manufacturers that can help realize the concept in a commercially viable package, which they admit will need to be much smaller and lighter to compete with current brakes.

Oh, and to put its performance into perspective, if you braked every second for 31,688 years, it would fail a grand total of 3 times.

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KT
KT
10 years ago

I dont really see the point, but it is cool nonetheless

Dani
Dani
10 years ago

I honestly would prefer to have a lever instead of a pressure sensitive grip.
Picture this scenario: you’re going downhill and you loose the front tire grip, you squeeze the handlebars (grips) to try and regain control and *bam* you lock both wheels, I guess you know what happens next.

Matt
Matt
10 years ago

Love the smooth lines and tidy engineering : O )

Yoda
Yoda
10 years ago

And what about the remaining 0.000000000003%? 😛

morpheous
morpheous
10 years ago

Novel, ungainly, and unwarranted design. Multi-function grips + levers (SRAM gripshifters/Shimano MTB STI attempt ) have already been spit out by the MTB community due to the unwanted shifting that takes place as you are trying to control the bike (via the grips) through rough terrain. Can you imagine accidental braking taking place as you negotiate obstacles pulling and pushing the bike. This is def an MTB POV, but that’s where the disc market is. Sorry, this one is a miss.

dgaddis
10 years ago

@morpheous – I agree, grip activated brakes are a horrible idea, clearly these people have never really ridden a mtn bike.

But – you shut your dirty mouth about GripShift!!

hooby
hooby
10 years ago

hey dummies, nobody is saying it has to go to market now. prototypes and experimentation can help foster some really positive inquiry sparking some new ideas. trying out an idea in various manifestations and seeing if it works or develops into something different is part of how we get different tools. some things stick, some things don’t. a lot of successful innovation is the fruit of an idea applied to one need that ends up getting modified for a different purpose. nothing wrong with that at all . i like rigid single speed simplicity as much as the next pabst swilling hipster but i also appreciate the personal expression that can be displayed in engineers engineering an idea out. if you ever dorked around in the garage with odd parts and pieces and whatever tools you could find as a kid, you realized there is something good about tinkering for tinkering’s sake. you learn a lot during the process. i think its a good thing that bikerumor lets us peer in on the process and its pretty small to shoot down every effort out there. to all you innovator’s…go for it and good luck. what might appear to be an initial miss can turn up elsewhere as spot on.

jojo
jojo
10 years ago

…will get fun with my jammer if this gets real

Kovas
Kovas
10 years ago

Yeah, I somewhat agree with Hooby – I guess this is cool (on the innovation side of things and all), but if digital bikes is the way of the future, then I fear the day when I can’t fix my bike on my own anymore… And it takes an IT professional and a computer hack just to adjust my derailleurs and brakes.

Ronin Six
Ronin Six
10 years ago

@Kovas, in the future you’ll be able to have wireless hydraulic shifting and braking with mind control… all tunable for a .99 app running on your touchscreen cycloputer. Heh.

Awesome POV, hooby. =)

Devin
10 years ago

I think the big news here is the potential, anyone who has ridden electronic shifting agrees it is AMAZING, now imagine if this technology could be taken to the point where you still use a brake lever, but its electronically activated like this system, no fluid pressure when you squeez the lever means way less finger fatigue.

craigsj
craigsj
10 years ago

First, it would not surprise me if the developer discovered that the signaling is too slow. 150/250ms is an incredibly long time. Riders have more control than that with mechanical systems.

Second, the system as it appears requires a large electrical source at the brake. That sucks.

The focus seems to be on replacing the hydraulic cable and human factors which aren’t the areas of greatest advantage. Instead, I would be much more excited to see a magnetic braking mechanism. It could even be frictionless and would solve the need for a large battery at the caliper. It might be heavy but this design will be too. I second the notion of ditching the squeeze controller. That sounds terrible. It’s as though the inventor is creative but doesn’t understand what would truly be of value. Make the braking better, don’t just make a rube goldberg version.

Here’s an idea: run a small 2-conductor electrical cable between the grips and the calipers. The system would be light and reliable without all the wireless nonsense that does nothing for the rider. Instead, focus on an electronic brake that actuallly works better.

greg
greg
10 years ago

according to another article about the same thing, the bike is just the test bed for the technology behind highly-fool-resistant wireless signaling. it’s likely going to be used for other things, like military things.
about electronic braking (not wireless), that could be very cool, but for cars where the weight gain is not so high and there is already a big power source. imagine how brakes would be designed if you didnt have to worry about overheating brake fluid!

Topmounter
Topmounter
10 years ago

Despite the headline, the story here is the pressure sensitive grip, not the wireless brake actuation. It doesn’t take a genius to pick up some parts from your local RC hobby store and rig up wireless disc brake.

Marcos
Marcos
10 years ago

it’s the same “drive by wire” concept: you can change mechanical cables by wire/wireless connection. First step probably will be wired (like Di2). Next step, wireless, like all gadgets we have nowadays.