Shimano has filed a patent
for an ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) for a vehicle that uses human force as the means for motion, which was first spotted by Bike Radar
. This indicates that they are well on their way in the development of a working ABS system. ABS systems have been around for a long time in motor-driven applications including motorcycles, the first being patented in the late 1920s.
An ABS system is automated and uses sensors to quickly manage braking forces applied to the braking system of a vehicle to prevent it locking up and sliding, which causes a loss of traction. It is designed to help improve control of a vehicle and to decrease stopping distances on various surfaces. Over the years, systems have become increasingly complex and advanced. In a perfectly working system, the user could apply the brakes of whatever vehicle as hard as they want without fear of losing traction. Systems for motorcycles also have sensors to evaluate tilt and whether the wheels are on or off the ground.
Earlier this year, we reported on Tom Stanton's ABS system
. Bosch also have a system for commuter and e-bikes, Volkswagen and Audi filed a patent for a two-wheeled bicycle system over a decade ago, but this is the first we've seen from Shimano.
While we can see the primary application of Shimano's system being pedelec bicycles, their patent doesn't limit it to that. The system specifically leaves things open to human-powered mountain bikes, cross bikes, and road bikes as well as different style drive systems including belt or shaft drive applications. The system is more complex than the VW/Audi one, with more sensors.
E-bikes are the likely candidate for Shimano's ABS system, but the patent leaves the door open for other applications.
A block diagram showing the brake system of the first photo.
According to the patent, it seems that the system could have a LIDAR style optics system that detects wheel movement in relation to the ground and GPS in it. Interestingly, Shimano also recently filed a patent
for a brake rotor that has a magnetism generation device that can "detect the rotational state of a bicycle wheel". This is yet another piece of sensory equipment that could help in executing the system. How it all works together and what will it look like in the end is yet to be seen and, of course, it's just a patent. There may never be a product at all.
While the patent leaves things open to mountain bikes, it's hard to imagine the system being practical or desired by most trail riders. Where would it benefit someone the most? We suspect that pedelec eBikes will be a big market, and we can't forget bike share bikes where increasing safety is a concern. Mountain bikes and cross bikes? It's doubtful.