Researchers at Saarland University in Germany developed a system that replaces both the bike's brake cables and levers with a wireless system that employs control algorithms typically found in aircraft and chemical plants.
These super-dependable brakes reportedly offer 99.999999999997 per cent reliability and are able to apply the brakes within 250 milliseconds of being activated — half the time it takes to blink.
The braking technology is actually being designed primarily for use in rail systems but, since putting unfounded brake technology on full-sized trains is all sorts of a bad idea, Professor Holger Hermanns created this system as a small scale test. He explained in a press release, "Wireless networks are never a fail-safe method. That's a fact that's based on a technological background."
Instead of a brake lever, the rider squeezes the rubber handlebar grip, activating a pressure sensor. This activates the cigarette-pack-sized sending unit on the handlebars, transmitting the Stop command to an actuator located on the front fork that (obviously) activates the disc brake. A series of redundant sensors located on the fork will provide back up signal to actuator should the primary fork-mounted sensor fail. It's still in the prototype stage (hence the decidedly boxy appearance) but researchers hope to improve its reaction time and add an anti-lock function in the coming revs.
It's not so much the wireless signal failing that worries me. I mean, I'm glad they're got the failure rate so ludicriously low and all but I'd be much more concerned with the AA powering the sending unit suddenly deciding that it's out of juice as I crest the top of a large hill. Hopefully, this technology will actually make it to market to give me something to worry about.