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Many of us have experienced that nervous feeling you get when you’re following a trailer that has begun to sway and it would appear that at any moment it could fishtail out of control. Worse still is the feeling of a loss of control while negotiating the twists and gradient of the road with a trailer in tow. Both circumstances can be stressful, and for both driver and surrounding traffic, potentially very hazardous.

Trailers can easily become unstable and cause accidents when braking, swerving, overtaking, driving in high winds or on difficult roads. In 2016, loss of control accounted for 30% of caravan accident claims, with oversteering and fishtailing among the main causes.

The need for a solution to this problem was identified by Bosch’s Australian Vehicle Safety Systems engineering team. This prompted an innovation idea and subsequent R&D project in 2014. The parent company acknowledged the local engineering capability and market opportunity, which led to the establishment of a Bosch global Centre of Competence for Trailer Safety in Australia by 2015.

As a leading provider of technology and services, Bosch is at the forefront of innovation in vehicle technology. Its new Trailer Safety Control (TSC) system has been designed for fitment to caravans and trailers equipped with electric brakes and towed by passenger vehicles. The system demonstrates state-of-the-art vehicle safety technologies developed by Bosch over more than 40 years. It shows how Bosch Australia is diversifying into new products and markets including the global caravan and trailer sector, building on 30 years of local automotive engineering expertise.

“Despite the end of volume passenger car production in Australia this year, Bosch Australia’s 200 strong automotive engineering team is busier than ever,” said Gavin Smith, President of Bosch Australia. “Trailer Safety Control is a great example of how to apply existing capability to an adjacent and attractive niche with global potential.”

The launch of the first system, an active safety system, will aid accident prevention by incorporating ABS, sway mitigation and other value-adding functions for new caravans and trailers with electric brakes. It has the potential to reduce the number of trailer-related incidents by up to 45%. Furthermore, the comfort of knowing that the system will automatically intervene when necessary at the first sign of instability or wheel lock, will help alleviate driver stress levels while towing.

Mounted to the trailer’s chassis, the system comprises an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) with integrated motion sensor, and wheel speed sensors. These sensors determine the movement of the trailer and the speed of each individual wheel, respectively. The brain of the system, the ECU, will be manufactured at Bosch’s production facility in Clayton.

Bosch has been a leader in automotive safety systems such as Antilock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), also referred to as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), for 40 years. Mark Jackman, the head of Bosch Australia’s Vehicle Safety Division explains: “Our extensive vehicle safety systems experience is carried over into the TSC system, making it a system you can rely on.”

Bosch is in the final stages of development and readying the TSC system for sale early in 2018, with the support of DexKo Global, a global leader in highly engineered trailer running gear and chassis assemblies and related components. The system will be offered initially in Australia and the USA. In these two markets alone, there are approximately one million new trailer registrations annually (including caravans), and 12 million registered trailers.

Production on the Bosch TSC system will depend on fitment decisions by caravan and trailer manufacturers, but is expected to be within 12 months. The system will also be made available as an aftermarket retro-fit, though the release date for this has not yet been set. It is the first “on-trailer” system from a recognised leader in vehicle safety systems to combine trailer sway control and ABS. With the exception of truck trailers, the first-generation product can be applied to all other trailers, regardless of type, that are fitted with electric brakes. The TSC system is “one size fits all”, with  one hardware and software variant across all applicable trailers.