The situation is alarming: during braking the wheels lock on slippery ground, steering has no effect and the vehicle is uncontrollable. Until the 1960s there was only one effective remedy: what was known as “cadence braking”. This involved stepping on the brake pedal, releasing during locking, braking again, releasing the locking brake, braking. It soon becomes obvious just from reading about it that even experienced drivers usually found this all too much.
What was needed was an electronic system that automatically took care of these difficult procedures for the driver with great precision. In the mid-1960s such an invention at last became technically possible. Without a moment’s hesitation Mercedes-Benz drove forward the development of the world’s first electronically controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS) together with Bosch.
Some 200 lavishly equipped test cars accelerated and braked their way over several million test kilometres. The breakthrough finally came in 1978: the ABS reached production maturity and was immediately used in what was then regarded as the best car in the world – in the W 116 model-series S-Class.
Since 1992 all Mercedes-Benz models have been fitted with ABS as standard. At the crucial moment it prevents wheel lock, so the driver remains in control at all times when braking and steering.