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What are Anti-Lock Brakes?
Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS) allow the contact patches of a tire to maintain braking contact with the road surface under maximum braking maneuvers.
Early auto manufacturers like the French master builder Voison tested aircraft-style threshold braking systems as early as 1929. Fully electronic ABS for aircraft arrived on the Concorde in the 1960s, and made its way into some automotive applications, like “Sure Brake” in the 1971 Imperial, and some Cadillacs in the mid-1970s.
Fully electronic, four-wheel ABS wouldn’t appear on many passenger cars until the 1980s. Amazingly, NHTSA still doesn’t mandate ABS for all automobiles in the United States, like the European Union has since 2007.
However, it does mandate another feature, and that’s what makes ABS so critically important.
Since 2012, NHTSA has mandated that all cars in the United States be equipped with electronic stability control. The only thing that makes stability control work is ABS. It’s also the feature that helps traction control work.
Thanks to the wheel speed sensors and electronic control unit that makes ABS work, features like emergency braking. Without ABS, none of these features would be as universally adopted today.