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Innovation

The faster brake

Boosting active safety for pedestrians: The fast brake decreases the braking distance by up to 1.30 meters when an automatic stop occurs.

Every centimeter counts in an accident – Jörn Marten Wille and his team have shortened the braking.distance by 1.30 meters.

When there’s an accident, even a few centimeters can decide whether a pedestrian suffers serious or light injuries. The driver is often unable to brake in time. The car’s driver assistance systems have to intervene. When things get critical and within fractions of a second, Front Assist’s pedestrian detection function starts automatically applying the brakes – much faster than the driver ever could.

The next generation of the Passat will include an innovation to increase the effectiveness of the way the brakes are automatically applied in an emergency. The electronic brake force booster (e-BKV) will need up to one-third less time to slow down the vehicle from 30 km/h to a standstill. That’s 1.30 meters less than before.

Jörn Marten Wille, with his ten-member team working in chassis development in Wolfsburg, is integrating this innovation into the Passat. “We call the e-BKV the ‘fast brake,’ because we’re making the braking distance part of proactive pedestrian protection”, says the 36-year-old mechatronics engineer. He has been working in chassis development at Volkswagen for around four years now, and has extensive experience in the field of autonomous driving. In fact, Wille wrote his doctoral thesis on the topic.

» We’ve succeeded in making driving cars a little safer. «

The fast brake is activated when, for example, a pedestrian suddenly steps onto the road at a spot difficult to see properly. A radar sensor in the radiator grille detects the pedestrian, and the control unit ­instantly triggers full braking. Now the e-BKV, installed behind the brake pedal in the engine compartment, comes into play. It intervenes, and applies brake pressure to the wheels more quickly than before. The vehicle comes to a stop, potentially only a hair’s breadth short of a crash. Wille says, “We took a component that already existed and added electronic circuits. Mechatronic is driving the innovation.”

The developer, whose favorite vehicle is the Golf GTI, is happy with the results. “Once again, we’ve succeeded in making driving cars a little safer, and in surprising our customers with something new.”

The fast brake allows a vehicle to stop up to 1.30 meters earlier than is possible ­today. This has opened a whole new chapter in predictive passenger protection. This is because a braking distance that is 1.30 meters shorter means 1.30 more meters of active safety. Many a driver or passenger will soon have more opportunities to say, “What a relief that nothing happened.”