Three decades of enhanced vehicle safety: ABS turns 30

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The benefits of ABS in the wet Image: Bosch

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April 29, 2008 It's now three decades - and an untold number of near-misses - since Bosch introduced the first-production line electronic antilock braking system (ABS), a safety feature that's almost taken for granted in modern automobiles.

Although the history of anti-lock systems for aircraft goes back as far 1929, the Bosch developed system known as ABS 2 was the first electronically-controlled system for automobiles to go into production. It was first introduced on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in 1978 with BMW offering it as optional equipment on high-end vehicles soon after.

ABS, which enhances driver control and vehicle stability by preventing wheel-lock under heavy braking, has formed the basis for increasingly sophisticated safety systems such as the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and Traction Control System (TCS). It's estimated that around three quarters of all vehicles produced worldwide are now fitted with ABS and other brake regulating systems, with modern ABS weighing around a quarter of the original versions.

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