With over one million caravans and trailers registered in Australia — plus another 12 million in the USA — it's crazy to think that advanced braking technology isn't yet the norm.
Tech giant Bosch is looking to change that, this month taking the wraps off a system that implements stability control for trailers. No surprise, caravan owners are the brand's target market.
Available from early 2018 and retrofittable to all trailers with electric brake controllers (with the exception of truck trailers), the Bosch Trailer Safety Control system works to brake individual tyres in the event of sway or excessive brake pressure.
Using a host of wheel speed sensors and motion sensors, the system routes through a Bosch ECU to manage brake commands and processes inputs at 25 times per second.
While it may not sound like much, watching the system in action is nothing short of remarkable.
At an event to prove its worth, Bosch demonstrated the system both on and off on a wet surface to maximise impact.
When drive with the system off, a sudden lane change and brake manoeuvre would cause the trailer to jack-knife and move into oncoming traffic.
Bosch developed a rig to sit on both the leading vehicle and trailer that would prevent the trailer or car from rolling over during testing.
As an example of how far the engineers on the day intended to push the system, the calibration process saw a number of contact pads replaced.
With the system activated, it looked nowhere near as dramatic as when turned off, with the trailer simply following the vehicle during a lane change.
The most dramatic demonstration of the system in action was with a lane change at high speed. If the system was off it would cause a pendulum effect on the car and eventually result in jack-knifing.
The Bosch system works both with vehicles that already feature trailer sway control, and with vehicles that don't use the technology, meaning it can be retrofitted to any type of car.
Bosch isn't talking price just yet, but we would expect the system to retail for no more than $2000 — a wise investment if you're planning on touring or travelling long distances with your trailer.
It doesn't take much to get excessive sway and end up facing the wrong direction.
The system was developed by the company's Australian arm, and Bosch says it is busier than ever, working through projects for a number of manufacturers in Australia and abroad.
“Despite the end of volume passenger car production in Australia this year, Bosch Australia’s 200 strong automotive engineering team is busier than ever,” said Gavin Smith, president of Bosch Australia.
“Trailer Safety is a great example of how to apply existing capability to an adjacent and attractive niche with global potential,” Smith said.
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