Electronic braking systems have been a major source of interest in the motor industry for years now but the idea of replacing slow and outdated hydraulic systems with instant-response electronic systems is nothing new. The aeronautical industry has been using electronic set-ups for years while the auto industry has continued to lag behind. Part of the reason is the increased cost and the stigma behind the failure of electronic systems due to possible glitches. Hydraulic brakes on the other hand offer a physical process of braking that cannot be disturbed by a faulty electronic system.

Bosch, Continental, Siemens and other car parts suppliers have been developing electronic braking systems for some time now and claim they are closing to overcoming these problems. Of these, Continental is closest to a production ready electronic braking system after acquiring and passing up on a previous electronic wedge brake technology and instead focusing on a new design of its own, reports Automotive News.

Continental is in fact working on a new non-hydraulic-spindle-based system for the rear axles only, with a view to combine this technology with the wedge brake in the future. The advantage of using the spindle-based system is that many of the parts used in the system are shared with hydraulic brakes which will keep costs down. Fully electronic brakes are currently around 20% more expensive than hydraulic brake systems due to the fact that they must have a backup system in the case of an electronic failure. You may recall Mercedes’ recall of its Sensotronic electrohydraulic brakes six years ago.

So are electronic brakes worth all this effort of extra manufacturing costs, government legislation and consumer mindset change? According to a study done by the Dekra institute in Germany of the electronic wedge brake, stopping distances can be improved by 15% over conventional brakes. Something that should have the motor industry and motorists sitting up and taking notice of electronic braking systems and their ability to make our roads a little bit safer.