Brake expectations

A new type of gyroscope could help improve active suspension, traction control and anti-lock braking systems in vehicles.

A new type of gyroscope, developed by UK sensor specialist ETB, working with Morgan Electro Ceramics (MEC) and Micro Circuit Engineering (MCE), could help improve active suspension, traction control and anti-lock braking systems in vehicles.

Existing gyroscopes have a large number of components. The ceramic gyro designed by ETB, however, consists of just a single disc and is small and cheap to produce. Just 10mm across, it is made from piezoelectric ceramic material. If a rotational force is applied to it, it generates a voltage, and the strength of this reveals the angle of the rotation, said Denis Hodgins, co-owner and operations director of ETB.

The discs themselves are manufactured by MEC, with specific processes requiring sub micron accuracy carried out by IBMT in Germany.

In use, the gyroscopic disc could prevent cars spinning out of control, when drivers take the wrong action. ‘The gyro could detect that the rotation is more than that of normal cornering, and the correct braking could then be applied to bring the car back under control,’ said Hodgins.

The gyro could also be used in vehicle tracking to provide short-term information on the car’s movements when a satellite link is lost, he added.

ETB has received a DTI Smart Exceptional Award to develop the gyroscope.

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