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How Things Work: ABS [VIDEO]

Brendon Carpenter
By Brendon Carpenter
October 29, 2020

Untitled design-3In this episode, Frankie du Toit from 947 joins Peter Viljoen as they take a Swift Sport for a spin on a skid pan to “brake” all the rules with safety systems off to see just how much safer a car is with safety features like Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS, or like we call it, allows braking and steering), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and brake assist. While these technologies may seem standard in most vehicles today, face it, ABS is like the granddaddy of safety features, we’re showing you just how much of a difference they make!

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 47 seconds.

If you can’t watch the video, you can read the video transcription below:
Edited for clarity and readability

 

 

How Things Work - ABS EBD BAS Episode 22

Peter:
Welcome to Let's Talk Automotive and the next instalment of our segment on how things work. And today we decided that we're going to show you a few of the active safety systems that we found on the Suzuki Swift. And we have a very special guest in the form of Frankie. Welcome, Frankie.

Frankie:
Thank you, It’s good to be here. Can I just be honest? Cause I've never been on a skid pan. We've got this huge skid pan behind us. I know you're a pro and my mom has taught me to drive safely. So I'm really scared about what's happening today. You’ll have to guide me.

Peter:
That's awesome, Frankie, because what we are going to do today is break all the rules with the systems off to show you just how wild these cars can get with the systems off. And then we're going to switch them back on and hopefully, you’ll have a wow moment.

Peter:
In our first session on the skid pan, we're going to take you through how ABS works. Now, interestingly enough, most people think that ABS is there to stop a car faster. That's one of the advantages, particularly in wet conditions, but actually, ABS allows you to brake and steer. So although ABS stands for Anti-Lock Braking System, we can actually change that acronym to be Allows Braking and Steering. And so in the next few demonstrations that we're going to do with Frankie, we're going to take you through exactly how ABS works by first turning off the system and then putting the system back on. And we're also going to illustrate the effects of some of the supplementary systems on ABS that we find such as electronic brake force distribution, as well as brake assist.

So we want to get to about 60km an hour. And then I'm going to try not to have the brakes locking up all the time. All right, here we go! 

Now we're going to do it with ABS and EBD and what this does is it distributes the brake fast properly front and rear, right. And it's also going to stop the wheels from locking up because you notice I had to come off a bit. And we're going to get up to the same speed. Do you feel the difference?

Frankie:
Oh right. I felt that. That's crazy.

Peter:
Can you feel that mechanical feel? 

Frankie:
Yes, Yes, I feel it. 

Peter:
ABS pump that's taking away and adding fluid to the brake callipers. And …

Frankie:
So it's like, pumping like this 

Peter:
Okay. So the ABS is off. Now you're driving effectively in the 1980s. 

Frankie:
Right. So you're just going to go straight, you'll have no control. We won't be able to do anything. 

Peter:
Absolutely. And this now tests the concept that the wheels are round for a reason. And that's to develop traction, Oh, here we go. 40 kms an hour. 

Frankie:
Right, nothing. 

Peter:
Absolutely nothing. 

Frankie:
Absolutely nothing! 

Peter:
That was pretty… We can actually go a little bit faster even. Cause we've got a lot of runoff.

Frankie:
So this is what happens when, I mean like generally if your ABS isn't working, you can try whatever you want and it’ll never do anything? 

Peter:
Won’t do anything. Once your wheels have locked up, you are a passenger and the momentum is going to guide the direction of the vehicle. So…

Frankie: 
I used to drive a Ford Cortina 76 and I experienced it in the rain. 
There we go. And then you feel it pull. So that's what it used to do when an echo pings. 

Peter:
Yeah yeah. 

Frankie: 
I used to drive to varsity. It's raining, the first brake and you just sort of slide across the road. There's no stopping, controlling nothing.

Peter:
You know, you bring up a good point, Frankie, because part of what electronic brake force distribution does is not only proportionate brake force front and rear, but also left and right. Because your road surface is always going to have two different levels of grip between left and right. 

Because with all the dirt and muck, everything is pulled to one side. What we are going to do now is going to take my foot off the brake once we've locked. 

Frankie: 
Okay. 

Peter:
So I'm turning and the brakes retain grip. And it's quite violent. 

Frankie: 
Very violent

Peter:
And that’s why we only need a quarter turn. That's the second mistake that other people make when they lose control. They overturn, and when you overturn, you actually lose more grip. So a little half turn does amazing things in terms of the amount of the vehicle. 
All right now we're going to do is we're going to get Frankie to drive.

Frankie: 
Let’s see how this goes. 

Peter:
So Frankie, as I say, 40 or 50 kilometres an hour, and you are properly equivalent to 120 on the dry tarmac on the freeway, in terms of the dynamics of the car. So whack the brakes, turn and you’ll see the car just getting a grip. 

Frankie: 
I see. Wait, I gotta do that again. Do that again. We're going to do that again.

Peter:
And now that you've experienced the car, you are free to go to whatever speed you're comfortable with. 
Okay, whack the brakes, turn. There we go, perfect. 

Frankie: 
What did I get up to? I didn't even see. 

Peter:
You got up to about 55. 

Frankie:
Yeah yeah

Peter:
It was nice, nice and brisk. 
So Frankie, what are we going to do now is we've put some cones up, to simulate as we said, a vehicle that's either crashed or stopped in the middle of the highway and you're going to have to get your way around. So I'm going to leave it up to you and then I'll show you how to do it thereafter.

Frankie:
So there too, I just brake…? I'm going to try.

Peter:
I want you to try to steer your way around those cones and back into your lane. So you're gonna turn left and right. 

Frankie:
Okay. Alright. Let's go.

Peter:
Let's try it. 

Frankie: 
Okay. Same kind of speed. Yeah. 

Peter:
Same kind of speed. Alright. 

Frankie:
Oh no. 

Peter:
Okay, we are all dead. Yeah, no we are dead and whoever was in the road is also dead. Everyone's dead. 

Frankie:
I saw those cones, we'll start by getting your adrenaline pumping a little bit. Then you're going to start to see things. 

Peter:
I’m already nervous. I don't need adrenaline pumping. I'm really nervous. 

Frankie:
Okay, here we go.

Peter:
Brake, turn, off the brakes. I can feel that. Well done! Nice, look at the hooter going off.
But let's try this one more time. What I want you to do is lock your hands. 

Frankie:
I'm going to do this.

Peter:
That’s it, and that’s all you need to turn. 
So again, you feel what everybody feels instinctively; which is the need to turn and turn, to get the car to turn. 

Frankie:
Which is not the case. Because like we did earlier, you just take your foot off the brake a little and you'll get the response. 

Peter:
100%
So at Swartkops, at the hairpin, the wheels are only 7 degrees believe it or not and you get around the hairpin. So now just remember to lock, you doing everything right by the way, so just remember to lock those arms. 

Frankie:
Lock the arms, don’t lift the end and don’t forget about the steering wheel. 

Peter:
So lock your hands on the steering wheel, brake, turn, off the brakes, turn back in and there you go. 

Frankie:
Oh, that’s much easier. 

Peter:
I'm actually impressed. I think we will have to put you in a race suit and a helmet. I think you've got this. 

Frankie:
Okay. So ABS is back on. Now the car, technically I shouldn't have control. I should be able to turn even in a braking sliding kind of mode.

Peter:
A hundred percent. So what ABS does for us is, it does cadence braking automatically for us. So we don't have to pump the brakes. We don't have to think about coming off the brakes. Even if you oversteer, it's gonna cope with it. So it's taking away all our inadequacies as drivers when we're in a panic situation and we don't think, and it's not natural for us to do these kinds of things. First of all, it's very unnatural when you are heading towards an object to remember, to actually take your foot off the brake. 

Frankie:
Yeah. It's crazy. Cause you're braking and then you're going and then I've got to release softly. So I don't. 

Peter:
So our natural instinct is to keep breaking harder. Cause we think that's the way to go. So it's quite natural to come off the brakes. Now it doesn't matter. You can keep braking as long as you like.

Frankie:
Okay. Let's see if I can make this happen. 

Peter:
I mean, it's almost like an anti-climax hey?

Frankie:
Wait, let's try that again. I feel like I might go…

Peter:
Go around then, let’s now build up some speed. So, let’s get some serious speed. 

Frankie:
That’s crazy, I just missed the end cone. 

Peter:
But I mean you were going nice and fast there. The car completely sorted out everything. Imagine, and you’ve now experienced this; imagine doing it without the systems. 

Frankie:
It's impossible. It's actually impossible. That's crazy. 

Peter:
Wow, Frankie. 

Frankie:
Now look, I’ve learned a few things, Peter, ABS is my friend. That's one thing I've learned. It's actually incredible what these systems do and how clever the car is. 

Peter:
And to think that we drove cars without these systems in the eighties and we are still alive. 

Frankie:
Well like I said to you, I drove that Ford Cortina and it had none of this. And I know why now, why I went into the neighbours’ car a little bit on a turn once, you know. 

Peter:
I've got to say the improvement that you showed today was unreal. I can't wait to get you on the skid pan tomorrow where we're going to do some serious skidding and ESP and loss of control.

Frankie: 
That’s the fun part. 

Peter:
That’s going to be the fun part, so we’ll see you tomorrow. 

Frankie:
Perfect. 

Peter:
Thanks, guys. And we'll see you next week on Let's Talk Automotive.


To watch the full episode, visit: https://fb.watch/1m69dmBQGg/ 

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