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Breakthrough: Anti-lock brakes – Part one

8 months ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


27 October 2023

Bloody idiot. Whoever caused that pile-up a few miles back cost you almost an hour on your way home. It was already dark when you set off. You are tired, hungry, and it’s started to spit just enough sleety rain to remind you that you meant to replace the passenger-side wiper blade that’s not quite clearing the lower bit of the screen.

This evening’s commute could not get much worse. But at least the traffic’s behind you now and you can crack on a bit. There is an RS6 up ahead and it’s making good progress, so you tuck in behind and let it sweep the dark motorway ahead.

Unconsciously, you’ve shortened your focus to check how bad the wiper pattern is. Before your frontal cortex knows anything about it, the windscreen is full of red light: the brake lights of the Audi ahead. Some part of your reptile brain does the mathematics and knows that those glaring red lights are approaching far too fast – that the Audi is now stopped, and that you are closing at 35 metres per second. In far too few seconds, your bonnet will pile through the RS6’s rear end, and the world will explode in a million fragments of glass and plastic.

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