ESP Inventor Gets Lifetime Achievement Award, Finally

Many years ago, automotive supplier Bosch developed an active safety system meant to save lives. It was called ESP, and perhaps you have heard of it.
Anton van Zanten, ESP Inventor 4 photos
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Anton van Zanten, ESP InventorAnton van Zanten, ESP InventorAnton van Zanten, ESP Inventor
Over time, ESP is credited with saving over 8,500 lives in Europe alone, and has helped avoid countless accidents and dangerous situations on the road. Bosch estimates that over a quarter million accidents have been avoided thanks to this system.

This invention was first available in top-of-the-line automobiles, which were the flagships of the brands that sold them, but has become mandatory in the European Union and many countries. Thanks to this, anti-skid protection is present in 64% of all new vehicles sold worldwide today.

The rest of the cars are sadly sold in countries where safety is not as important to regulators as in the USA and EU. We still hope a day will come when all customers of new cars will be protected from the factory with the presence of ESP as standard equipment.

A day will come when we will wonder how come some cars were still sold without ESP in 2016, when this invention is almost three decades old (since development began). With so many years since its creation, we were surprised to find out that its inventor, Anton van Zanten, was not awarded this reputable distinction by now.

Fortunately, he was nominated this year by the European Patent Office for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was chosen to receive this distinction for his work. The Dutch engineer is considered the “Father of ESP,” over a career that spanned over 25 years.

Mr. van Zanten has received multiple awards for the creation of ESP, but the Lifetime Achievement was not one of them, until now. The Dutch engineer is responsible for approximately 180 patent families, including trailer sway mitigation, and electronic rollover mitigation. He also was part of the team that developed ABS technology.

So think twice before switching off the device considered the second most valuable safety invention after the seat-belt, as it could save your life when skill and luck run out.

Work on the ESP system began in a 35-member research group at Bosch, in Germany. The first car to have electronic stability control as standard was the 1995 Mercedes-Benz S600. New car buyers in Europe get an advanced version of the system on any automobile sold in the Old Continent these days. The system has become mandatory for all cars made after October 2014.

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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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