Italian high-end brake manufacturer Brembo announced in October its plan to launch Sensify, an AI-powered braking system that promises both “driving pleasure and absolute safety” when it hits the market in 2024 via an unnamed manufacturer . Traction and stability control, it replaces hydraulic controls with electronic controls for design flexibility and possibly more precise control.
The integration of AI in vehicles is not new, as algorithms control playlists, maps, driver assistance and even “self-driving” to different degrees. However, AI-based braking systems are enough to make you worry about how exactly they work or increase safety.
“When you deal with artificial intelligence and neural networks, they are only as good as the training data you have,” says J. Christian Gerdes, engineering professor and co-director of the Center of Automotive Research at Stanford University. “When you have a new case that is something it’s never seen before, it’s hard to know in advance what it’s doing.”
Autocar UK reports that Sensify uses a “dedicated app” to program itself based on data and to improve the driving experience. The system will supposedly use predictive algorithms, sensors and data management tools that will give it a “digital brain” that can control each wheel independently.
Gerdes says that modern anti-lock braking systems, first introduced in the 1970s, are a patch for locking the wheels when braking hard. “It would make more sense to understand what is going on on each of your bikes. And then intelligently query the braking force on different wheels. ”
Despite the digital footprint with AI and Sensify, the physical mechanics are more present in the Sensify system than the software, says Brembo Managing Director Daniele Schillaci. The exec told Reuters “The mechanics and software content will soon be equivalent, and software will be dominant in braking systems by the end of the decade.”
The company plans to open a technology lab in Silicon Valley by the end of the year to advance its digital strategies. Brembo says, “Data collection is being used to improve the driving experience and allow the system to be constantly updated,” but how it deals with issues such as privacy and security of the data it collects is unclear.
One of the advantages of Sensify is adapting to driving style, adapting to weather and road conditions, and shorter blocking times. Brembo also says its system will be cheaper over the life of a car because it removes brake fluid through electromechanical control, has lower maintenance costs, lower disc consumption, and less or no drag torque. In an electric or hybrid vehicle, better control of regenerative braking can help reduce battery size.
What if there is a hardware failure in this AI brain? In a demo for Autocar UK, Brembo explained that the system has two ECUs (electronic control units) that are fail-safe linked but send their commands separately.
The system is scheduled to be released in 2024. Brembo said it is designed for multiple types of cars such as sedans, racing cars, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, but it’s not clear how much it needs to be customized for each type.