There was a time when the chances of a driver losing control of a car under emergency or evasive maneuvers were very high. If something (or someone) accidentally wandered onto a road and you had to brake and swerve to avoid, crashing was very common. All the more if the road was wet.
In 1978, however, Mercedes-Benz and Bosch started a real revolution in vehicle safety, and it can be summed up using three letters: ABS.
The two German companies partnered up to develop a system that would become the first truly digital driver assistance technology (DAT). ABS allowed the driver control over the steering even under emergency braking, all by preventing the wheels and tires from locking.
The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is undoubtedly one of the most important innovations in vehicle safety. The official description by Mercedes-Benz of the system is below:
“The anti-lock braking system uses a computer to monitor the change in rotational speed of each wheel during braking. If the speed slows too quickly (such as when braking on a slippery surface) and the wheel risks locking, the computer automatically reduces the brake pressure. The wheel accelerates again and the brake pressure is increased again, thereby braking the wheel. This process is repeated several times in a matter of seconds”.
The technical nature of the system can be confusing, but in short, it gives the driver control of steering by “pulsing” the brakes when it senses that the wheels are going to lock. This pulsing sensation can be felt on the pedal under heavy braking (depending on conditions), and allows the driver to steer away from danger while braking.
ABS first appeared as an option for the brand's top of the line model, the S-Class, towards the end of 1978. Later on, it became available for every Mercedes-Benz. Today, ABS is (almost) a mandatory safety feature for every modern automobile.