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ZF's IBC: Stop Better and Drive Farther

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ZF's Integrated Brake Control (IBC) is today's leading solution for coordinating the brake application on passenger cars: IBC has the potential to shorten the emergency braking distance by nine meters and to extend the range of electric vehicles.
Achim Neuwirth,
Achim Neuwirth has been writing for ZF since 2011. He has specialized in writing texts about all kinds of car-related topics: from vehicles to the technology behind them, to driving and traffic.
Braking involved strenuous muscle work until well into the 1980s in some cases: Just how forceful you stepped on the pedal determined how much lever force and hydraulic pressure squeezed the brake linings against the discs or drums. Brake boosters eventually simplified deceleration, making them indispensable on heavier and faster vehicles. And the advent of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and ABS helped ensure directional stability for cars. ZF's Integrated Brake Control (IBC) has been synonymous with a similar groundbreaking innovation since 2018: IBC combines brake application (booster) and control (ESC) in a minimal space. The powerful, fast-acting system with its smart electronics can completely replace and outperform the human driver. ZF is now launching the second generation of IBC.

New Technology Inspires the Automotive Industry

The "IBC 1" ended the dependence on the vacuum used in previous systems. The volume production premiere in 2018 in the Chevrolet Silverado underlined this: "The industry was aware of the advantages of this brake control system. Our IBC quickly reached exceptionally high volumes," says Manfred Meyer, Head of Engineering at ZF's Active Safety, Braking Systems & Steering Systems Business Unit. By 2021, ZF had already topped the one million units per year mark. Since then, the technology company is no longer just a pioneer, but a world market leader in this field.
The recently unveiled second generation of IBC is about to defend this position. ZF has made it more powerful, more scalable – and more compact: With around 30 percent less space required and 25 percent less weight, it can be integrated even more easily and flexibly into vehicles. "This keeps us way out in front," says Meyer.

IBC Secures up to Nine Life-Saving Meters

When it comes to "being out in front," IBC can bring a car to a stop up to nine meters earlier than a conventional braking system when braking automatically from 100 km/h in an emergency. These figures can be achieved with no modifications to the foundation brakes, i.e., using the same discs and calipers as before. "In critical traffic situations, IBC can make all the difference between life and death," stresses Meyer.

This is because the IBC instantly builds up the brake pressure required for the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and does so around three times faster than would be possible under ideal conditions with the driver's leg-pedal-hydraulics-vacuum booster chain of command.

Brake Management With IBC Increases Electric Range

IBC also benefits automated and electric driving. Ultimately, IBC is a by-wire solution if you consider the connection of the brake pedal to this control system, making it easier than any other available solution to integrate into the vehicle electronics.
The latest IBC boosts recuperation with electric vehicles, for example, by up to 17 percent (compared with an increase of up to 12 percent with the IBC 1).
The system's ability to interact harmoniously with the electric traction control allows the vehicle to leave deceleration to the electric motor more often and for longer. The electric motor then operates in generator mode, i.e., it charges the battery.
As such, the IBC indirectly saves drive energy. "This increases the range and improves the CO2 balance, conserves the service brake and reduces abrasion-related particulate matter," says Meyer.
"Thanks to IBC, the electric motor in an electric car performs over 90 percent of the braking maneuvers. In this way, the IBC software feeds maximum braking energy back into the battery."
Manfred Meyer, Head of Engineering ZF Active Safety, Braking Systems & Steering Systems Business Unit

Zero Errors Are a Must With Braking Systems

The braking system is subject to more stringent functional safety requirements than any other passenger car system. In the case of cars permitted to travel without driver intervention, even if only on certain sections of road, these demands continue to rise. "The millions of lines of software code, the high-performance electronics, the complete actuators – all of these must be absolutely reliable with our IBC," stresses Meyer. "That's why we've also added the necessary redundancy for the use of conditionally automated driving and above."

With these kinds of demanding brake innovations in particular, the Group benefits from one standout feature: From the pedal or actuator, the brake control and its algorithms through to the calipers and discs on the wheel, ZF can handle every detail in-house. "The software functions developed for braking were also enablers of other ZF software modules such as 'cubiX', which intelligently connects various chassis systems," says Meyer.

Brake-by-wire by ZF allows additional features

The New Braking Feels Good

Despite software-defined systems and digital solutions, one thing remained analog, figuratively speaking: The – now simulated – pedal feel. "Our engineers know how to adjust the brake feedback so that drivers enjoy a familiar and pleasant feel. This ZF expertise built up over decades is now also part of the actuator control," says Meyer. The driver at the steering wheel is blissfully unaware of the complex transitions between electric deceleration and deceleration via the friction brakes, the brake blending in electric cars. IBC upholds the best traditions when pushing the brake pedal – while it coordinates braking itself more effectively, efficiently and intelligently than ever before.