Braking Down

Been getting around a lot recently, visiting customers at a variety of test facilities. It’s a really useful exercise because I get to see VBOXs being put through their paces in the environment for which they were designed, rather than on my desk, connected to a LabSat and a roof-borne antenna.

It’s also an ideal opportunity to, shall we say, dispel some misconceptions. I touched on this briefly a few months back. Some things just get stuck in people’s heads and it takes a physical demonstration or an authoritative intervention to change their mind.

This time, it’s brake stops. A ‘core competency’ (as my colleagues in the Marketing Department would have me put it) of VBOX products. At a certain European test track engineers carry out brake stop manoeuvres over a distance-marked tarmac area. Whilst I was there I witnessed a couple of these and was then called over by one of the drivers. He complained that the brake distance results were very inconsistent.

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I checked his test procedure. I asked how he initiates the start of the test. His response was, in my world at least, very surprising: “We hit the brakes at the first marker.”

The reason they conduct these stops on a marked out apron is so that they can get definitive results based not just on the GPS data, but also on where the car actually stops. They were seeing VBOX results that differed to those based on the painted track markers.

You can’t do it this way. I explained that, no matter how good a driver you are, it isn’t possible to brake at exactly the same point each time. Once I’d set them up with a light-barrier, so that the test start point was always the same, the results spoke for themselves.

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