•   Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ESP in the car - necessity or exaggeration?

How many times have we heard from our grandparents that if we had tried to drive a car 20-30 years ago, we wouldn't have driven a mile. They are happy to recall the times when the Polonaises and Fiat 125p had an absolute minimum of electronics, nobody heard of power steering, and the safety of driving was decided by the driver and his skills.

It's true, times have changed a lot. Today, a number of safety systems, such as ABS, ASR and ESP, help us to drive accident-free on the road. Today, we will say a few words about the latter, which is one of the most important, as evidenced, for example, by the legislation of many countries.

Why is ESP needed in a car?

Yes, in the past, driver skills were by far the most important guarantee of road safety. Today they are also very important, but thanks to advanced technologies we can use a number of facilities that help us in crisis situations. Why are they so necessary today? For a simple reason, just look at the roads. We have more and more motorways, expressways and expressways with very high speeds. There are more and more cars on the streets with very efficient engines, whose power is sometimes not fully understood even by the drivers themselves. Thirdly, today the number of cars on the roads is many times greater than it was 20 years ago. This all adds up to a picture of more bumps, collisions and serious - unfortunately also fatal - car accidents. Oil in the fire adds to the irresponsibility of drivers who get on the wheel under the influence of alcohol, other drugs or stress, creating a danger on the road. Therefore, it was necessary to introduce ESP and other systems supporting driving safety to the new cars.

What exactly is ESP?

In order to answer this question, we need to take a step backwards - towards other security systems that we know very well.

Let's start with the popular ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System). Its purpose is to prevent the brakes from jamming during sudden braking. In such a case, a number of dangerous phenomena occur, such as pulling the car aside, its spinning and general loss of control - especially in difficult weather conditions. With ABS, when you apply the brake pedal suddenly, your vehicle will lose speed gradually, thus avoiding the above consequences. Does it extend the braking distance? This is not so obvious - research has shown that weather conditions and driver skills are crucial.

The second well-known safety system in cars is ASR (Acceleration Slip Regulation), which is designed to avoid slippage during sudden acceleration. If we watched films in which drivers "smoked rubber" at the start of the race, they certainly didn't have the ASR on - it wouldn't allow for the popular "spinning" of the wheels in place.

At this point we come to the heart of the matter, which is the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which is an electronic program for stabilizing the driving track, combined with ABS and ASR. All these systems work together, and the ESP in the car keeps an eye on all events in the event of a sudden change of lane or slip. It is able to lock some wheels and lose or increase the speed of others in such a way that the car over which it is out of control does not fall out of the road, is not exposed to rollover and is returned to its original track as safely as possible. The key element here is the independence of the wheels, because each of them has its own sensors measuring their rotational speed and compares it with the others. The system makes the necessary calculations on an ongoing basis and reacts in a crisis situation. ESP was first used in 1995 in a Mercedes S-Class. Today, it is already in all new cars, which is somewhat enforced by law - since 2011, all vehicles registered in the European Union must be equipped with it. In the USA, a similar law has been in force since 2012.

Nowadays, cars are almost "filled" with electronics. The only systems supporting the safety of driving can be counted several dozen. Older people with a feverish recollection of the times of "cars with soul", in which pure mechanics counted. However, today's road conditions and lifestyle changes have made it necessary for car amenities such as ESP, ABS and ASR to save not only health but also life.

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