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The Auto Repair Shop’s Guide to ADAS

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, more commonly known as ADAS, are an important modern car technology that auto repair shops need to know about. According to a study by Allied Market Research, the ADAS market is projected to grow from around $40 billion in 2018 to nearly $190 billion by 2026. That translates to millions of ADAS-equipped cars currently on the road, with tens of millions more about to be sold. Ready or not, here they come!

What are driver assistance technologies?

Driver assistance technologies allow safe vehicle operation using computers that gather information from cameras, radars, and other sensors. ADAS monitor the driver, road, and surrounding vehicles to prevent potential accidents. Modern commercial and passenger vehicles come with the following features:

  • Automatic emergency braking: Monitors and maintains distance with the vehicle in front by using cameras and brakes.
  • Adaptive cruise control: Maintains a safe distance from the car ahead, slowing or stopping if the car ahead does the same. Cars equipped with collision warning systems take it a step further and can apply emergency brakes when needed.
  • Lane departure warning and keep assist: Notifies drivers when the car starts leaving its lane. This technology uses cameras to track lane markings to keep vehicles from veering off course. These partially automated systems can be overridden by the driver in emergencies.
  • Automatic lane changing controlled by turn signal lever: Steers your vehicle through a lane change if there are no other cars in the selected lane.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert: Alerts the driver and applies the brakes if the vehicle is about to back up and collide with traffic.
  • Blind-spot warning: Issues a visual and audible warning to inform drivers of any oncoming traffic in their blind-spot while changing lanes.
  • 360-degree camera systems: Gives drivers a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle to aid in parking.
  • Backup camera: Lets drivers see what’s behind the vehicle while backing up. The video feed is usually streamed to an infotainment unit on vehicles’ navigation systems.

The future of car technology is focused on safety

A few years ago, these sophisticated safety features were only available on high-end luxury vehicles. However, advancements in technology have driven down the prices of various components, leading to many carmakers incorporating them into their more affordable vehicles. Even mass-market manufacturers like Toyota and Honda now offer a suite of several ADAS features as standard equipment on every single new vehicle that they sell.

Many ADAS have already become mandatory in all cars, such as backup cameras—all new cars sold in the US from 2018 onwards must have one. As technology becomes more widely available and ADAS features prove their effectiveness, more of them will become compulsory in future cars rather than being sold as expensive add-on options. The figure below summarizes some ADAS features that EU law mandates auto manufacturers have to integrate into new vehicles. Since many foreign luxury car brands operate in North America, we’ll soon see these features in American vehicles.

Chances are that cars equipped with ADAS are likely sitting in your service bays at this very moment! Are you prepared to repair these systems when they need your attention?

How is working with ADAS different?

Unlike most mechanical systems that auto repair shops typically work on, ADAS requires a more systematic approach. As opposed to, say, a water pump or wheel bearing that normally needs a specific type of repair or replacement that is usually limited to the part itself, ADAS is a system that must be repaired and then properly calibrated before the vehicle can leave your shop and operate safely on the road. An improperly calibrated ADAS could fail, leading to potential accidents and loss of life. Should this happen, the shop which failed to conduct proper repair will be held liable.

Just as ADAS must be recalibrated properly after repairs, so must the vehicle to align with the system. It’s important to understand which repairs can interact with ADAS so that calibration can be done whenever necessary.

How do you communicate the importance of ADAS to customers?

Customers may be unwilling to spend a significant amount to get their ADAS fixed. Most of the time, this is because of a lack of information about the system. So, how do you tackle this issue?

It’s simply a matter of educating customers about the complexity and precision of these systems and then explaining how ADAS technology keeps them and their families safe. Shops should convey the importance of recalibrating and repairing any malfunctioning features since neglecting them may lead to fatalities.

What should repair shop owners do to prepare for ADAS?

There are two paths that mechanic shops can take to prepare for ADAS. They can either conduct in-house repairs and calibrations or outsource jobs to a specialist.

In-house ADAS calibration

ADAS calibration equipment is available, but it’s expensive. Interested shops can also get the right training to start. To set up the equipment, shops also need to dedicate a large, completely level space painted to the standard provided by the calibration equipment supplier. Unless you plan to keep your ADAS calibration equipment in constant use, possibly by becoming a specialist providing these services to other shops in your community, the cost-effectiveness of such an investment at this point in time is questionable.

Hiring an ADAS calibration specialist

If another shop in your area specializes in ADAS calibration services, this could be the right way to go—at least for now. You’ll only pay for the calibration services needed and then mark them up to your customers while presenting estimates. Doing this also shifts the liability onto the shop doing the calibration work, which is another major benefit.

Things may change in the future

It’s entirely possible that as more vehicles with ADAS fill the roads, affordable ADAS calibration equipment will be widely available. Cars may be able to calibrate themselves sometime in the future. However, customers might need to purchase a subscription from their car manufacturer to avail such services, judging by recent trends

Closing thoughts

Whether it’s to increase driver attentiveness or the first step towards the popularization of autonomous vehicles, safety features are here to stay. New car technology is evolving, as are customer expectations from auto repair shops. Now is an excellent time to start working with ADAS vehicles so that your technicians have the right skills for when these technologies become widespread.

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