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Breakthrough: Anti-lock brakes – Part two

4 months ago

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Writer:

David Twohig | Engineer

Date:

30 October 2023

Sometimes, the early bird does not catch the worm. In the case of automotive innovation, it’s often the second or third engineering bird that scoops up a whole garden-full of limbless invertebrates, having watched the early birds point out the opportunity. The history of modern ABS – by which I mean electronic ABS – is a case in point.

The ‘official’ history of modern ABS seems pretty simple. If you did some quick research, you might think that Bosch invented ABS and that Mercedes-Benz first offered it on its 1978 S-Class. These two companies – especially Bosch – are so strongly associated with ABS that it seems reasonable that they invented it. Why, for example do we call it ABS? Why not ALB – a far more logical acronym for Anti-Lock Brakes? Well, because in German it’s Antiblockiersystem, or ABS. So we use ‘ABS’ because Bosch is German, and they invented electronic ABS, right?

Wrong.

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