When automotive engineering began to gain momentum in the late 1800s, brakes were initially disregarded. There was a good reason for that – they just weren’t needed.
After all, friction in the driveline of the first cars was so great that the vehicles were able to brake independently without using the brakes. However, the pace of development in the industry was gathering pace as fast as the speed of the cars themselves. The engine power and weight of the vehicle grew steadily. Just four years after the Carl Benz car was unveiled, British engineer Frederick W. Lanchester invented a disc brake, for which he obtained a patent as early as 1902. However, it was only after a few decades that a disc brake was recognized and permanently used. Until then, the brakes had changed quite significantly.
How the brakes work
Photo of Frederick W. Lanchester’s patent
The basic concept behind the operation of the brakes in any vehicle is simple. We need to stop something moving at a certain speed. The brakes convert the kinetic energy of the wheels into heat through friction. When we want to slow down, energy is gradually lost until we stop. This concept has always been used in the automotive industry. Only the way friction is used when the brake pedal is depressed has changed over the decades.