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ESP® – paving the way for road safety

How can you recognize when an invention has real value? Put simply: when you take it for granted. Like, for example, the electronic stability program (ESP®) that Bosch and Daimler-Benz brought to the market for the first time in 1995 in the S-Class and that is now installed in 82 per cent of all new passenger cars throughout the world. The life-saving system prevents the car from skidding and is therefore regarded as a cornerstone of present-day road safety.

But ESP® is more than just a system installed as standard. It is a technological foundation on which major new innovations are built. We would therefore like to invite you to join us in looking back at the achievements of the past decades that help make future mobility as safe and reliable as possible.

Safety pioneer and inventor of ESP®, Anton van Zanten, talking to Paul Ruhnau, project director for artificial intelligence

ESP® – invented for life

The road is slippery, and visibility is poor. All of a sudden, you have to slam on the brakes. A fraction of a second that decides between fortune or misfortune – and in which vehicle stability plays an absolutely crucial role.

Already back in 1983, Bosch was researching into improving the antilock braking system (ABS) to prevent the wheels from locking up when the brakes are fully applied, thus enabling drivers to still steer the vehicle. The idea was to create a smart system that would compare the data from the ABS with the target and actual steering angle, the vehicle rotation around its vertical axis, as well as lateral acceleration and the wheel speeds and then automatically intervene in critical situations. Thus, ESP® was born and made its way into volume production vehicles in 1995.

ESP® really took off on a global scale, however, after October 21, 1997.

It was the day a journalist from a Swedish automobile magazine test drove the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. During an especially critical evasive maneuver test, the vehicle rolled over. As a result, Mercedes-Benz decided to equip all A-Class models with ESP® as standard – a milestone for the system.

ESP® has now become an indispensable element in automotive development and is a key component in many driver assistance systems that involve automated braking functions.

More about ESP®

Keeping a safe distance – no more rear-end collisions thanks to ESP®

Automatic emergency stop in traffic

One of the main factors contributing to accidents is inattentiveness. To reduce the risk of collision in heavy traffic and during turning maneuvers, Bosch developed the automatic emergency braking system (AEB). If the driver fails to react when coming critically close to the vehicle ahead, the system first of all makes the driver aware of the situation with an audible signal followed by a short but noticeable brake application (felt as a jerk) which can be built up quickly and dynamically thanks to the ESP® system. Automatic emergency braking then actively assists the driver with braking or, if the driver fails to intervene, automatically applies the brakes fully.

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Safety for vulnerable road users – how ESP® protects pedestrians and cyclists

ESP reacts to a cyclist

Collisions can have particularly serious consequences when pedestrians or cyclists are involved. This makes it all the more important for the driver to see them in good time and take the appropriate action. By initiating automatic emergency braking when road users are endangered, the ESP® system from Bosch helps prevent such collisions or mitigates them effectively. Radar sensors and/or cameras built into the vehicle detect objects or people even when visibility is poor and warn the driver accordingly. If the driver does not react, the system uses ESP® to instantly build up the required dynamic brake pressure so that the vehicle is brought to a stop safely, thus preventing or mitigating a collision.

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ESP® – a single invention with countless applications

car dashboard

Regenerative braking systems

ESP® hev is a regenerative braking system from Bosch that improves consumption, range, and the carbon footprint.

car on the highway

Highway assist

Highway assist provides assistance through longitudinal and lateral control of the vehicle.

Use of the home zone parking function

Home zone parking functions

For increased safety at home, home zone park assist uses ESP® to automatically apply the brakes when a stationary object is detected.

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ABS – at your side for over 40 years

car in city traffic

For years, Bosch engineers worked on a solution for passenger cars that would prevent the wheels from locking up and enable the car to be steered. In 1978, the electronically controlled four-wheel antilock braking system was born, followed by motorcycle ABS in 1995 and eBike ABS in 2018.

Airbag control unit – saving lives since 1980

The airbag is one of the most important safety innovations. To work effectively, it must deploy within milliseconds. This is achieved with an electronic control system that Bosch brought to volume production vehicles in 1980. Since then, Bosch airbag control units have saved around 90,000 lives.

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supergraphic red

ABS – at your side for over 40 years

For years, Bosch engineers worked on a solution for passenger cars that would prevent the wheels from locking up and enable the car to be steered. In 1978, the electronically controlled four-wheel antilock braking system was born, followed by motorcycle ABS in 1995 and eBike ABS in 2018.

Airbag control unit – saving lives since 1980

The airbag is one of the most important safety innovations. To work effectively, it must deploy within milliseconds. This is achieved with an electronic control system that Bosch brought to volume production vehicles in 1980. Since then, Bosch airbag control units have saved around 90,000 lives.

Up to

72 %

of all passenger car rear-end collisions involving personal injury could be prevented with the automatic emergency braking system. 1)

1) Bosch accident research; data set: Germany


Bosch’s ESP® technology has been able to save around

15,000 people

in Europe alone over the past 25 years. Added to that are almost 500,000 prevented accidents. 2)

2) Bosch accident research, 2020

Bosch has produced over

500 million

brake control systems for passenger cars and motorcycles in the past 40 years.




Around

90,000 lives

were saved by the airbag control unit from Bosch since the introduction of the front airbag. 2

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