You are on page 1of 16

VEHICLE SKID CONTROL

1. INTRODUCTION

Vehicle skid can be defined as the loss of traction between a


vehicle’s tyres and the road surface due to the forces acting on the
vehicle. Most skids are caused by driver error, although only about 15%
of accidents are the direct result of a vehicle skidding. Skids occurring in
other accidents are usually the result of last minute action, by the driver,
when faced with a crisis ahead rather than actually causing an accident.
Skids can occur both in the dry and wet as well as icy conditions,
however, the chances of losing control and having an accident increases
by 50% in the wet. The most common type of skid we will be
confronted with is when the rear end of the car slides out, causing an
oversteer or when the front of the car plows toward the outside of a turn
without following the curve of the turn causing an understeer. Usually,
oversteer occurs as a result of going into a corner too fast or incorrectly
hitting a slick area, causing the rear wheels to oversteer. A third skid
called the four wheel skid can also occur, where all the four wheels lock
up and the vehicle slides in the direction where the forward momentum
is carrying it, with no directional control.

To counter these skids and to prevent accidents from happening,


Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) is incorporated in the vehicle. Vehicle Skid
Control (VSC) takes the safety aspects of the driver and the vehicle to
the next level. It comes under the category of “Passive Technology”,
which helps you to avoid a crash. Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) senses
the onset of traction loss and helps the driver stay on track. This is
achieved via the system's ability to reduce engine power and to control
the brake actuator. VSC helps the driver maintain vehicle traction under
demanding conditions by detecting and helping to correct the wheel
spin. VSC uses a variety of sensor input to determine if the car is losing
traction, then applies the brakes to individual wheels to help correct for
discrepancies. The system will also back off the throttle to reduce power.
VSC integrates traction control to limit rear wheelspin on slippery
surfaces. The VSC system electronically monitors speed and direction,
and compares the vehicle's direction of travel with the driver's steering,
acceleration and braking input. VSC can help the driver compensate for
loss of lateral traction, which can cause skids and loss of vehicle control.

2. CAUSES

The main causes of skidding are as follows:

a) Harsh or sudden acceleration.


b) Excessive or sudden braking.
c) Coarse or jerky steering movements.
d) Oversteer and understeer.
The effects of the above will be enhanced by speed.
Combining these effects with non-recognition of adverse road and
weather conditions will create problems for the driver.

3. TYPES OF SKID
The main types of skid that a driver could encounter on the
public highway fall into three categories.
1) The front wheel skid.
2) The rear wheel skid.
3) The four wheel skid.

3.1. The Front Wheel Skid

Figure 1:FRONT WHEEL SKID

3.1.1.Characteristics
The car tends to take a course outside of the expected course
that the driver has steered (understeer); see figure 1. If the front
tyre approaches the traction limit more rapidly, the effect is that the
front of the car takes a wider radius curve than the driver intended.
The car is said to understeer.
3.1.2. Cause
Excess speed on entry to a hazard i.e. a corner or bend, or
sudden braking to reduce the speed when negotiating the hazard.
Both of these actions will have the effect of destabilising the
vehicle making it more vulnerable to a loss of control.

3.2. The Rear Wheel Skid

Figure 2:REAR WHEEL SKID

3.2.1. Characteristics
The rear of vehicle swings out of line and gives the
impression of trying to overtake the front (oversteer); see figure 2.
If the rear tyres approach their traction limit more rapidly than the
front, then the effect is for the rear of the car to steer a wider path
than the front wheels. This rotates the car more than the driver
intended and, if nothing is done, leads to the car turning a smaller
radius corner. When this occurs the car is said to oversteer.
3.2.2. Cause
As with the front wheel skid, excessive speed into the
hazard and sudden braking or acc-eleration with a rear wheel drive
vehicle, destabilising the vehicle, are the main causes of this skid.

3.3. The Four Wheel Skid

Figure 3:FOUR WHEEL SKID

3.3.1. Characteristics
All four wheels have locked up and the vehicle is sliding in
the direction that the forward momentum is carrying it, with no
directional control; see figure 3. Both front and rear wheel skids, if
unchecked sufficiently early, can develop into four wheel skids.

3.3.2. Cause
Harsh or sudden braking has caused the wheels to lock. A
sensation of increase in the vehicle’s speed often occurs.

Figure 4

4. UNDERSTEER AND OVERSTEER


4.1. Understeer
As the name implies, understeer occurs when the front slip
angle is greater than the rear and the car goes straighter rather than
following the intended turn. The slip angle, or yaw angle in
technical terminology, is the angle between where the car is
pointing and the intended path. The yaw moment is the rate at
which the yaw angle is changing. The higher the yaw moment, the
more likely it is that the driver is losing control. At the same point,
the front wheel may start to grip less even when the steering is
turned sharply and as a result the car continues in more of a
straight line than a sharp turn. Here in this case, the skid control
system brakes the inside rear wheel, effectively tightening the car’s
line. By applying the brakes, the car slows down which further
helps stabilise it.
4.2. Oversteer
Oversteer, on the other hand, occurs when the rear tyres have
a greater slip angle than the front tyres and the back threatens to
overtake the front, causing the vehicle to spin. In other words, if
the rear tyres approach their traction limit more rapidly than the
front, then the effect is for the rear of the car to steer a wider path
than the front wheels. This rotates the car more than the driver
intended and, if nothing is done, leads to the car turning a smaller
radius corner. When this occurs the car is said to oversteer. Here
the skid control system brakes the outside front wheel to reduce
oversteer, effectively pulling the tail back into line.
5. SKID CONTROL
Stability control systems or skid control systems with names
like StabiliTrak, Dynamic Stability Control, Stability Management,
and Vehicle Skid Control are the latest advancement in vehicle
safety. Regardless of the different names, they all perform the
same task – to sense the onset of traction loss and keep the driver
on track. These systems are designed to deliver transparent
intervention the moment the situation becomes unstable. A vehicle
skid control system actually detects when a driver has lost some
degree of control. It then automatically stabilizes the vehicle to
help the driver regain control. Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) takes
the safety aspects of the driver and the vehicle to a completely new
level. These skid control systems are often integrated with the
engine management system to cut power in even more tricky
situations. This scenario is a complex system of sensors and
microprocessors that continually monitor the vehicle for any signs
of instability. Once detected (usually in the form of a slide or skid),
the system automatically applies selective braking to specific
wheels thereby stabilizing the vehicle. This split-second
intervention often happens so quickly that it is over before drivers
even realize they were in danger of losing control. By gently
stabilizing the car at the critical moment, control is returned to the
driver with minimal fuss and alarm. Luxury cars, such as the
Mercedes Benzes, BMW, Lexus, etc. now sold in India, have
stability systems installed that are designed to remove oversteer or
understeer.
6. COMPONENTS
The Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) is made possible by the
combination of different electronic and mechanical components.
Some of the components are those used in Anti-lock Braking
System (ABS), and an electronically controlled engine throttle, as
well as a dedicated computer and sensors, providing information to
the VSC system. These include:

Figure 5

• Yaw rate sensor.


• G-sensor.
• Steering angle sensor.
• Electronic throttle control.
• Slip indicator.
• Computer.

Yaw rate sensors detect changes in the car's rotation in a left
or right direction. It keeps track of the direction in which the car is
moving relative to which way the driver is

turning the steering wheel. When the sensors detect


understeer or oversteer, a computer takes over and applies brakes
or controls power to one or both the drive wheels, so that the car
comes under control.
The system is programmed to respond to a wide variety of
scenarios and is so selective that it can apply only the brake on one
specific wheel if that's what is needed to regain control. The G-
sensor or gravity sensor determines if the car is accelerating or
decelerating, cornering and braking forces simultaneously while
the car is on the move and accordingly controls the throttle.
Steering angle sensor evaluates the direction and rate of change in
steering wheel movement. Electronic throttle control reduces the
throttle for 1/7th of a second, to control the wheel spin, when the
front or rear wheels lose traction. Slip indicator alerts the driver
that the tyres are about to exceed the grip limit. The central
processing computer monitors the steering movement together
with either taking over and applying brakes or controlling the
power to one or both the drive wheels.
7. WORKING
The heart of all these systems is a central processor that takes
information from a number of sensors, and then determines
whether the car is in a stable or unstable state. By combining the
datas from ABS sensors (for wheel speed), steering angle sensors,
yaw sensors (measuring the amount a car fishtails, or rotates
around its vertical center axis), and lateral force sensors
(measuring the amount of sideways g-force generated by the car),
the central processing unit can actually detect when a vehicle is
behaving in a way contrary to how the driver intends. VSC also
includes a slip indicator with a warning sound and light to alert the
driver that the tyres are about to exceed the grip limit.
If the processor does detect instability such as a slide
produced by a sudden swerve, it automatically applies light brake
pressure to a select wheel (or wheels) to maintain or restore
control. Here, the VSC computer uses engine throttle control and
individual wheel braking to help counteract skidding and
spinning.The high-speed computer constantly compares the
driver's intentions, as indicated by steering wheel, throttle and
braking activity, with the car's actual motions measured by the
various sensors. If they do not correlate, the VSC computer
selectively applies individual wheel brakes and/or momentarily
reduces engine power as necessary to help the driver regain the
intended direction of travel. For example, if the car were tending
to continue straight rather than responding to the driver's right turn
of the steering wheel, VSC would typically reduce engine power
and would apply the right front brake momentarily to help the car
follow the intended path. Once proper vehicle attitude is restored,
VSC returns to a standby state. When VSC is active, a warning
beep tone and instrument panel warning light indicate that the
system is functioning. In many cases, VSC reacts well before the
driver is aware of a loss of lateral traction. A VSC shutoff button
deactivates VSC and electronic traction control for use. At all other
times,VSC remains on and functioning. VSC differs from Anti-
lock Braking System (ABS) technology. ABS prevents vehicle
wheels from locking, decreases the distance required to stop and
improves a driver's

control during emergency braking on wet and slippery roads


whereas VSC is intended to help a driver maintain the intended
direction of travel, even when the brakes are not applied. However,
VSC and ABS compliment and work in close coordination with
each other in stability control system, providing enhanced driver
control in a broad range of situations.VSC can help provide a
measure of control in real-world situations faced by even the most
careful and experienced drivers. VSC senses the onset of traction
loss and helps the driver stay on track. This is achieved via the
system's ability to reduce engine power and to control the brake
actuator.
8. WHEN DOES IT HELP?
Like the safety systems that preceded it, Vehicle Skid Control
is designed to step in when human input is incapable of effectively
controlling the vehicle. In most cases, critical situations are the
result of human error in the first place-driving too quickly,
inattention, misjudgment or simply panicking in an emergency
situation. In these situations, everyone can benefit from a safety
system that occasionally helps regain vehicle stability, while never
taking full control out of the driver's hands.
After the introduction of ABS, no safety
advancement has added such a high level of driving security as
VSC. When used with ABS and traction control, Vehicle Skid
Control significantly increases a driver's chances of recovering
from potentially dangerous situations. But no matter how advanced
the safety aid, the ultimate fate of a vehicle and its occupants
remains in the hands of the driver. No safety system should ever be
expected to protect unconditionally. So while the latest generation
of stability control systems offer drivers increased protection from
both themselves and the unexpected, they can never overcome
poor judgement or the laws of physics.
9. REMEDIAL MEASURES

In each case, the cause can be removed by taking the foot off
the accelerator or brake and depressing the clutch. The reasons are
as follows:-

• By decelerating, the vehicle’s speed is lowered, which in turn


will start to reduce the magnitude of the skid.
• Relaxation of the pressure on the brake pedal will unlock the
wheels and allow the tyres to regain traction, enabling the
vehicle to be steered.
• Depressing the clutch pedal has 3 beneficial effects:
(i) The engine will not stall, enabling the vehicle to be moved
quickly from the danger area.
(ii) The link between engine (providing power) and
transmission is broken; there is no drive to any of the
wheels, therefore the vehicle is no longer a front, rear or
four wheel drive model.
(iii) A very slippery surface can cause the drive to lock up
which in turn causes the wheels to lock, keeping the vehicle
in a skid situation.
10. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
10.1. Advantages
1) Monitors each wheel independently maximizing the
performance of the car.
2) Increases comfort, both physical and psychological.
3) Improves safety aspects of the car and the driver.
4) Helps save money long term.
5) Enhances the ability to dodge a renegade object in its
pathways.
10.2. Disadvantages
1) High initial costs.
2) Overdependence.
3) Not perfect.
4) Repairing cost may be high.
5) 11. CONCLUSION
Driving has become more and more dangerous with the ever
increasing population of man and vehicles. It is estimated that 25%
of all accidents are caused by driver distractions. Automotive
technology is being developed everyday to make our lives on the
roads much safer. Vehicle Skid Control is one such instance.
Safety is the principal benefit of this technology.

But no matter how advanced the safety aid, we should


never forget that the ultimate fate of a vehicle and its occupants
remains in the hands of the driver. No safety system should ever be
expected to protect unconditionally. So while the latest generation
of stability control systems offer drivers increased protection for
both themselves and the vehicle, they can never overcome poor
judgment or the laws of physics.
When we drive, it not only affects our safety but the
safety of everyone around us whether driving or not. With
increasing development in the field of automobiles, it is only
imperative that we go for vehicles that have these technologies
installed in them. Vehicle Skid Control would not, in anyway,
eliminate all road accidents; however it would lower the
percentage of crashes thereby lowering the number of fatalities.
12. REFERENCES
1. www.experiencemad.co.uk

2. www.audidrivingexperience.com

3. www.trailer-bodybuilders.com

4. www.graham-sykes.co.uk

5. www.lexus.com

6. www.howstuffworks.com

7. Heitner Joseph, Automobile Mechanics,2nd ed ,East West press,


New Delhi, 2001

8. Sing Harbans,The Automobile,1st edition,S Chand,New Delhi,2001

9. SEMINAR TOPIC FROM ::


www.edufive.com/seminartopics.html
10.