ABS brakes are common components of modern cars’ active safety features. Most people know that having ABS brakes on a car is a good thing, but not many people know exactly how ABS brakes work, or even what “ABS” stands for (this was recently asked as a trivia question on a radio quiz show – the contestant didn’t know the answer).
ABS stands for “Anti-lock Braking System”, although some suggest the initials “ABS” stand for “anti brake skid” (some even call them “anti skid brakes”, in which case, the correct abbreviation would be ASB). An ABS break system works by detecting if a wheel is locking up during rapid deceleration (braking), and preventing this happening. This is an important safety feature because if a wheel does lock during a sharp, sudden stop, it can cause the car to go into a skid and lose control. An antilock braking system contains a speed sensor on each wheel that detects if one (or more) wheel is turning more slowly than the others, indicating that it is locking. In this case, the ABS brakes will send a signal to the braking mechanism, making it ease up and allow the wheel to turn again. When the wheel begins to turn to quickly, the anti-lock braking system allows the brakes to put the pressure on again. As this ABS braking process is controlled electronically, it happens in milliseconds. The continual on-off pressure of the brakes causes the driver of a car with ABS brakes to feel a characteristic pulsing sensation through the brake pedal.
ABS brakes are an important active safety feature, preventing skids and loss of control. However, ABS brakes alone do not make a car invulnerable. ABS brakes are often part of a complete stability control program (which goes by different names for different manufacturers) that ensures the car maintains good grip during cornering and at other times.
ABS brakes were first developed for aeroplanes in 1929 in France. Rudimentary ABS brakes were first fitted to cars in the 1960s, notably to an experimental AWD Ford Zodiac. However, the full modern version of ABS brakes was used in cars by Chrysler in the 1970s.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)?’!
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