Moderator: Moderator Team
Wireless brakes are not in themselves a foolish idea - but that doesn't mean that they are well suited to bicycles. And the researchers in these articles aren't really intending them to be used on bikes, anyway.
A little background -
Railroad trains have typically used pneumatic braking systems. But some of todays trains are very, very long, so long that there is a meaningful delay for a pneumatic control signal generated at the front of the train to reach the rear of the train. One solution is to transmit braking signals electrically, so that braking control signals generated at the front of the train will reach the rear of the train almost instantly. But running wires from the front of the train to the rear would require electromechanical connectors at every coupling between cars. Each electrical connector introduces a potential failure point (connectors and contact points can be dirty, damaged, intermitant, etc.), and the many connectors required only multipies the potential for failure. Further, every time cars are couple and decoupled introduces another opportunity for the connecting components to fail. Because the connectors would all be in series, a single connection fault will prevent control signals from reaching the rear of the train.
A possible solution would be to replace the electromechanical connectors between cars with wireless signals. Wireless signals have their own reliability issues, but perhaps less than a multitude of electromechanical connectors. To find out, the researchers needed to proof of concept test. Building a testing a prototype on an actual railroad train is costly and time consuming (not to mention the safety issues), so they decided to start with a smaller, simpler system. They chose as their first, small scale test, to use a bicycle braking system. They even admit in the published paper that they didn't expect a wireless brake to be ultimately practical for bicycles:
"This project was originally conceived as the mad bike
project, and there is some craziness in this idea after all.
However we think that it is a very good case to study
the principal possibilities and limitations of wireless control
without going to excessive infrastructure costs. Indeed, our
investigations allow us to discriminate between different
options to solve this and similar problems with different
The foolishness started when the bicycle industry heard the idea, and thought that it really was meant for bicycles.
record wrote:So the planes fly by electronic wires.
Cars have electronically controled brakes.
But it seems no one here would try electronic brakes on their bikes.
Are you serious guys?
Airplanes cost millions of dollars and have multi-point inspections after every flight.
And newer cars have electrical systems incorporated into their brake systems, but they are still mechanical and use fluid: nothing is wireless.
I would not trust my brakes with a battery, just so that I could get rid of my brake lines.
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