Designing a Next Generation Trailer Braking System 2021-01-1268
Passenger vehicles have made astounding technological leaps in recent years. Unfortunately, little of that progress has trickled down to other segments of the transportation industry leaving opportunities for massive gains in safety and performance. In particular, the electric drum brakes on most consumer trailers differ little from those on trailers over 70 years ago. Careful examination of current production passenger vehicle hardware and trailering provided the opportunity to produce a design and test vehicle for a plausible, practical, and performant trailer braking system for the future. This study equips the trailer with high control frequency antilock braking and dynamic torque distribution through use of passenger vehicle grade apply hardware. Combining an electrically boosted one-box brake actuator with a complement of sensors allows one to leverage existing brake and chassis controls to produce high performance with minimal controls changes and off the shelf hardware in the brake apply system. Universal compatibility with trailer brake controllers and vehicle electrical systems is achieved by using only industry standards compliant interfaces with the vehicle through a purpose-made trailer interface ECU. Said ECU also manages the trailer's electrical system which allows for autonomous operation in the event of a loss of communication with or detachment from the tow vehicle. With this system design the vehicle and trailer combination achieves substantially higher performance than a conventional trailer brake system. Presented is a system as an example of what could be done today to revolutionize the consumer trailering experience and provide a platform to support future innovation in this space.