1972, First Automotive Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)

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The first production rear wheel anti-lock brake system released on the front wheel drive E cars (Toronado & Eldorado) was adapted from technology developed for aircraft to prevent wheel skidding, thus blowouts, during landings. The automotive application was developed to minimize stopping distance by a group at Engineering Staff. Rear ABS stabilizes the vehicle during hard braking when the rear wheels would otherwise lock up. Production hardware and support was provided by the component divisions: Delco Moraine (brake pressure modulator), Delco Electronics (controller), Delco Remy (solenoid valves) and Packard Electric (wiring harness).

As it turned out, this product was introduced with the technology of the day, an analog electronic controller, before digital microprocessor controllers. The lack of circuit integration, component variation, and drift all contributed to an option that didn’t gain sufficient volume, and was dropped as an option a year later.

This initial offering of ABS, however, started what would become a significant industry penetration of digitally electronic controlled ABS in the 80s & 90s and it enabled the next generation of braking sophistication: stability control systems of the 2000’s.

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