Power Electronics

Increasingly available, ESC cuts SUV rollover risk

Surveys indicate that the availability of electronic stability control (ESC) technology is growing rapidly, and that the technology can have a positive affect on nearly one-half of all sport utility vehicle rollovers.

According to the Electronic Stability Control Coalition, an industry group sponsored by Robert Bosch Corporation and Continental Teves, automakers will equip more than twice as many vehicles in the less than $25k price category with electronic stability control in the 2005 model year as they did in 2004, A list of ESC-equipped vehicles for the 2005 model year is available at the coalition’s web site.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), and sponsored by TRW Automotive, concludes that ESC can reduce SUV rollovers by modulating braking and powertrain forces to reduce yaw instability--the skidding or sliding caused by driver oversteering or understeering. The study found that yaw instability is the most frequent precursor event to an SUV rollover. According to UMTRI, SUVs are almost three times more likely than passenger cars to roll over in single vehicle crashes and nearly seven times more likely to roll in multiple vehicle crashes.

"Other studies have looked at rollover crash data, but none of them have looked at the pre-event conditions leading to the actual rollover," says Peter J. Lake, executive vice president of Sales and Business Development for TRW Automotive.

"If (yaw instability) events can be effectively managed, the roll may be avoided," adds Josef Pickenhahn, TRW’s vice president of Braking Engineering. TRW's ESC technology monitors lateral stability and regulates brake pressure and engine drive torque to assist in keeping the vehicle in a stable operating condition.

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