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.