With EuroBrake 2022 just one week away, FISITA sits down with Jan Münchhoff, Director of Development Driving Characteristics, Driver Assistance and Autonomous Driving Systems at Audi. He has been Chairman of the EuroBrake Steering Committee since 2020, partnering with FISITA to support the world’s largest annual gathering of braking industry professionals.
The global brake market is going through rapid change, fuelled by a range of automotive innovation. Technology such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) has become increasingly common on new cars and is considered by many safety experts to be as important as the introduction of seat belts in 1959. More recently, safety advances such as pre-collision systems and adaptive cruise control are altering the characteristics of braking systems, which must now deal with new software inputs and non-mechanical commands.
However, says Münchhoff, regulation plays a key role in ensuring the success of these innovations; it can either stall or promote technology, depending on how it is implemented. Through the correct legislation, the industry can set out clear targets to achieve long-term success which, in turn, will see significant investment in innovation and safety across the brake sector.
"The main issue today is that we don't have a global platform to regulate the entire market"
"The main issue today is that we don't have a global platform to regulate the entire market," says Münchhoff. "Without this, it is extremely difficult to distinguish an industry standard that suppliers, engineers and OEMs can work towards."
In 2019, the European Commission announced a new target of 0% road fatalities by 2050. In addition, the United Nations set out its own plan last year to reduce road traffic deaths by 50% by 2030. This is a good example of aligning strategies, although it still does not solve the global problem. Today, there are no aligned automotive safety regulations between Asia and the western world, making it extremely difficult for industry professionals to understand the direction of the market.
“The automotive market operates globally, and this should be reflected through a widely-understandable regulation for everyone to follow,” says Münchhoff. “Without rapid progress and regulation, we will not achieve any road safety targets. Therefore, we must promote discussion and collaborate to prepare, support and implement a solution.”
Understanding every upcoming regulation and the requirements that come with them is an almost impossible task for those in the industry. Münchhoff says that although the information is provided, regulations are commonly not signposted to the industry far enough in advance, resulting in a disconnect between engineers, suppliers and automakers. FISITA and the EuroBrake board are trying to overcome these challenges by bringing together leaders from the US, Europe and Asia, with the aim of creating a more transparent timeline of regulation rollout, so that industry professionals can prepare effectively.
“I predict much stricter regulation over the next few years, but I believe that engineers in the braking sector can do a lot to help achieve these ambitious targets”
“I predict much stricter regulation over the next few years, but I believe that engineers in the braking sector can do a lot to help achieve these ambitious targets,” says Münchhoff. “For example, the 0% road fatality target will only be achieved if the industry can produce shorter stopping distances, quicker reaction times of the brake pads and faster application of brake torque. It is imperative that the technology keeps up with regulation, to ensure the timely release of safety innovation required to drive progress towards the industry’s goals.”
Supporting the future of safety systems
Spearheading this change are two sets of engineers; those who are developing and manufacturing physical components such as brake pads, brake callipers and drive-by-wire mechanisms, and those who are focusing on software-based solutions, primarily under the banner of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Münchhoff says that the second group has played a pivotal role in the transformation of not only the braking market, but also the wider automotive industry.
"Software has changed the functionalities and characteristics of modern vehicles. However, both sides of the engineering sector are vital to ensure that brake systems of the future can enhance safety performance. One side relies on the other; you have ground-breaking technology on new vehicles revolutionising the way that stopping power is achieved, but you will always need some form of mechanical component to complete the action.”
Found in most new passenger cars today, ADAS systems replace human inputs with automatic commands that protect occupants in emergency situations. In the future, Münchhoff believes that we will start to see higher automation across the mainstream passenger vehicle market, increasing the importance for engineers to understand how to design the mechanical parts, support innovation and meet regulations.
“In the long term, it's all about the safety and security requirements for braking systems”
“In the long term, it's all about the safety and security requirements for braking systems,” he says. “If you take the driver out of the vehicle, the system must provide safety by constantly monitoring the situation. Electronic and mechanical braking systems have a very long development cycle, so this needs to be predicted and planned far in advance, otherwise there will be significant delays on the rollout of new technology.”
Münchhoff says that EVs have also become key drivers of future brake system design. They are much heavier due to the large batteries that power them, putting more stress on brake systems that need to deal with higher stopping forces. EVs also use regenerative braking, which utilises energy from the process of slowing down a car to recharge the battery. Unlike conventional vehicles which lose energy through heat from the friction between the brake pads and wheels, EVs extract additional range through energy recovery. This function changes the way the vehicle is driven, with drivers able to slow the vehicle by releasing the accelerator to initiate the regenerative braking system.
“Engineers must ensure that their systems can be compatible with regenerative braking, as they do not use traditional-style brakes,” adds Münchhoff. “They must stay ahead of technology like this, as they cannot play catch up. The only way to do this is to have a high-level of transparency across the global industry.”
This illustrates the importance of bringing together more traditional workforces and the new generation of engineers. EuroBrake aims to help by offering its Student Opportunities Programme, which invites a selected group of international students with a passion for mobility engineering, to learn about the braking industry, as well as participating in activities with peers and experts. Münchhoff believes that this and other similar initiatives will help produce future engineers who, in turn, drive the rollout of new safety technologies alongside mechanical engineers.
"To bring a better understanding across the industry, we must collectively identify, discuss and solve short- and long-term goals”
"A goal for EuroBrake is to make the sector as transparent as possible, catering for the new generation of engineers. To bring a better understanding across the industry, we must collectively identify, discuss and solve short- and long-term goals,” adds Münchhoff.
This year’s EuroBrake will be held online from 17 - 19 May 2022, and will feature over 90 technical presentations, panel discussions and keynote addresses that are impacting and shaping the future of braking. Industry experts from around the world will come together on a virtual stage to identify challenges and opportunities through keynote speakers and group discussions.
For more information, please go to: www.fisita.com/eurobrake