Innovative brake concept cuts stopping distance

June 18, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With a novel braking system, Swedish-American automotive supplier Autoliv claims to to reduce the stopping distance of a vehicle by up to 40%. The new brake could in particular be useful in urban traffic.

Tests have proven the so-called Torricelli brake – a vacuum induced plate below a vehicle which sucks down into the track during emergency braking situation – decreases braking distances by as much as 40 % at speeds up to 70 kmph.

The technology, developed at Autoliv’s research plant in Vårgårda, Sweden, is named after 17th century Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli, known for clinically accounting the vacuum and for inventing the barometer.

In today’s traffic, many car accidents are caused by late braking with insufficient force. A driver may brake too late for several reasons: He or she is distracted or inattentive; visibility is poor or a pedestrian crosses the street without paying attention. Therefore, several car manufacturers today offer Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems. Autoliv’s revolutionary Torricelli Brake will radically enhance the efficiency of AEB systems by dramatically reducing the braking distances.

0.3 square meters of safety: Autolov's Toricelli brake sucks into the track, causing the vehicle to decelerate violently.

Technically, the Torricelli brake is connected to the automatic breaking system, which in turn is rigged to detect hazards ahead. The patented solution uses a 0.3 m 2 vacuum plate below the vehicle that can be activated in just 0.1 sec and produces a downforce of 15.000 Newton, independently from the tire-to-track friction. This reduces stopping distances signifcantly on wet and dry asphalt and even on ice surfaces.

Autoliv has put a maximum speed limit for activating the system at 70 kph, due to the effectiveness and force of the system. This in turn means that the Torricelli brake will mainly be applicable in urban environments, where for instance inattentive children and cyclists could be avoided.

An obstacle for widespread acceptance of the system could be, strange enough, its effectiveness: Since it develops a rather violent brake force, implementing the system is only possible after carmakers have updated other safety systems such as belt tighteners, explained Autoliv Research top manager