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UK-based brake and clutch specialist Alcon is launching its latest-generation full-service brake-by-wire (BBW) technology at the Eurosatory 2024 defence exhibition, being held in Paris from 17 to 21 June.

Alcon’s technology is derived from its motorsport products and is applicable to multiple defence vehicle applications.

As battlefield requirements drive increasing demand for vehicles that are capable of partial or full autonomy, “a critical component for OEM manufacturers designing autonomous vehicles is a high-quality, safe, reliable and effective braking system that can be operated with or without a driver in the loop”, Alcon noted in a press release. “Alcon’s BBW system delivers exactly that with fit-for-purpose redundancy and system safety for each application, plus many other benefits across a range of defence and security vehicles, for both autonomous and crewed vehicle systems.”

Alcon produced its first successful BBW product, for Formula E motor racing, in 2016. Since then the company has continued development of its lightweight motorsport and autonomous BBW solutions to produce further variants.

“These systems are significantly enhanced and enable Alcon to offer a scalable BBW solution to meet the wide range of demands that defence vehicles bring, such as large vehicle loads or multi-axle solutions (4×4, 8×8 and tracked),” the company stated. “In addition, Alcon BBW solutions offer faster braking response, reduced maintenance, improved flexibility and adaptability and enhanced diagnostics.

“As defence vehicle OEMs move towards diesel electric drive (with or without a battery to support), EV silent running or stealth modes and autonomy, the ability to integrate the vehicle control system into the wider vehicle architecture becomes vital, reducing mechanical and hydraulic complexity,” Alcon stated.

Advantages brought by Alcon’s BBW solutions include: independent control of each wheel station, allowing for redundancy and braked steering; mechanical separation of the brake pedal from the system; simplification of installation and autonomous and/or remote control of the brake function; and seamless integration with conventional hydraulic braking systems.

As well as autonomous applications, BBW technology can also be used as a conventional foundation braking system or for efficient blending of regenerative and friction braking, delivering significant efficient and performance advantages to any vehicle OEM.

“There are many complexities for OEMs delivering autonomous vehicle capability, but with nearly a decade of experience in brake-by-wire solutions for high-performance motorsport, combined with Alcon’s considerable defence engineering experience, our latest BBW solutions solve many of the associated braking challenges,” Ollie Jackson, chief engineer for controlled brakes at Alcon, was quoted by the company as saying. “BBW also helps Alcon to deliver a full-service braking solution that combines the very latest friction braking technology to help align the defence and security vehicle market with the emerging new technologies seen in the wider automotive brake engineering environment. BBW is not just about autonomy; it’s a technology that can be applied anywhere to maximise vehicle efficiency and help save the lives of those operating vehicles at risk in harsh environments.”

Developed from its motorsports experience, Alcon’s brake-by-wire technology is applicable to future autonomous systems but also current and future braking systems for manned vehicles. (Image: Alcon)