Brake systems: a mind of their own

  • Michael Ellims


Brake systems fitted to current production vehicles are not the relativity straightforward hydraulic systems that many people expect. Rather they have evolved into complex systems which are on their own deliberately capable of affecting the behaviour of a vehicle. Crucially they depend on computers, software and electronic sensors to allow them to form a model of how the vehicle is expected to behave on the road and how it is actually behaving. Like any artefact they can, and do fail. This paper provides a high-level overview of the braking systems currently in place, how these systems act and present some examples of how they have failed in practice.

Index words: vehicles; vehicle electronics; electronic control; software; brake systems; failure modes