No self control?

There are pluses and minuses to the increasing application of driver assistance systems that seem to be pointing us towards full automation

Published:  14 March, 2019

Having witnessed the growth of passive driver assist systems and the intent to move towards fully autonomous vehicle control, my topic this month is to raise both thought and debate towards the implications. My first intention is to separate assistance from autonomy.

I fully support assistance as it provides a safer environment for the driver to concentrate on vehicle control. Many of these systems have been available for a very long time, including possibly the very first, power steering and power windows.

ABS to power steering
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are, I think, an excellent example where drivers may be misled as to the safety improvements. However, the laws of physics still apply, and the co-efficient of friction and kinetic energy will always dictate the retardation distance and vector. Obvious enhancements to ABS work as a fully integrated system, including dynamic chassis stability.
Early variants simply monitored the wheel speed sensor frequency, reducing the engine throttle angle to reduce torque through the driving wheels when a significant differential existed. Recent additions now include variable geometry anti-roll bar and adjustable rate shock absorber damping with self- levelling.

Evolving in parallel with these systems, and this is where there is an arguable transition from passive to active or automatous control, is the steering system. The introduction of power steering does have great advantages in reducing driver fatigue and improving mechanical response to steering wheel input. The next evolution was variable rate steering assist, whereby the assistance is proportional to steering angle and road speed. with the evolution of brushless motors and highly accurate position sensor technology, steering systems now offer corrective suggestion to the driver via a subtle torsion bar within the upper steering column. Should the driver resist this small force the system will disengage leaving the driver fully in control.
I am choosing to ignore for the moment fully autonomous steering control as it embodies a whole array of additional control input requirements.  This allows me to focus on some of the more peripheral driver support systems which I do fully endorse. Matrix vehicle lighting control is possibly one of the best safety improvements. This enables full beam lighting always, yet avoiding oncoming vehicle light stray. Smart cruise control is also especially useful on motorways in uniform traffic conditions.

Compliance
The next group of driver assist starts to cross the boundaries of assistance, this is due to the introduction of long- range transmitters and receptors, lane divergence, and vehicle proximity awareness. This technology does of course lend itself to other previously mentioned systems.  

There should be a very sobering pause at this point.  To maintain system integrity and accuracy from the above systems a little thought should be given to the almost non- existent function called calibration.it is critical. If you fully consider the implications of everyday servicing and repairs that affect these systems, compliance is the responsibility of the repairer. This means you.
This is the point where I cannot avoid the transition towards full driverless autonomous control. Due to several critical considerations, technical compliance, political compliance, legal compliance, and public acceptance, it is to be rolled out in five steps over several years. Ford recently suggested it could be implemented by 2021, with level zero full human control, to level five where the human has no input responsibility.

What of the globe’s biggest commerce giant’s? Intel has just purchased an Israeli autonomy tech company for $15 billion. Google has spent a modest $30m, and Facebook is in it too. All hellbent on convincing us of the benefits in total vehicle automation. Given their past and current dishonesty, self-interest, and responsibility avoidance you can bet it all going to be a financial beartrap.
 However, my personal feelings are more complex. Humans has evolved over many thousands of years by overcoming and controlling a multitude of challenges. It has enabled our brain and cognitive functions to develop to incredible levels. Imagine then, being trapped in an autonomous container with absolutely no functional requirement. What will you do by way of brain stimulation or choices. I accept traffic jams are worst than toothache, but driving is a socially shared experience. Think of the simple activities that release endorphins, such as cycling and walking. Why? because of the brain stimulation and cognitive responses, a form of achievement.

If you must have total autonomy for your travel requirements, then public transport is available now. My acid test for the techno maniacs out there is, given that the technology is currently available and has been proven over several years, would you choose to fly in an aircraft with no pilot? Remember that even in autopilot there are teams of humans constantly monitoring the flight path and technical systems.

Credibility
I’m not ignorant of the accident statistics that give credibility to automation, if that was the true motivation, then smoking and alcohol would be banned tomorrow as they kill and maim an awful lot more.

It has been suggested that our home environment would be improved as our car could drop us off and then park its self in a less congested place, so if you live in central London your car could end up in a South Downs village. On a more sinister note, if an autonomous vehicle faced with an inevitable collision from a oncoming car, would it mount the pavement and choose the mother with a pram as the better survivable outcome for its occupants?

The very best qualities of life always come back to interaction, be it with other people, pets or machines, what next? When do machines decide we are the redundant component? Disagree, or debate, but don’t accuse me of not embracing technology, I have spent my life trying to master it.





Related Articles

  • Steering you right? 

    Picking up from my topic and opinions on autonomous vehicle control last month I think it reasonable to explore the very technology our safety is to be placed.

    When considering the most challenging aspect of autonomous vehicle control, we must look to steering and stability correction. My references are limited to the Volkswagen Group, however most manufacturers now share similar drivetrain and chassis technology.

    Steering assist
    These systems have evolved over many years in what I term modular development. Steering assist is such a system. Steering assist is directly proportional to driver input force, the steering torque sensor g269 detects rotation, the steering angle sensor g85 provides angle and rotation acceleration.

    Responding to this data the control module j500 calculates the required assistance from the power steering assist motor v187. When parking, a low or zero vehicle speed combined with a rapid steering input provides maximum assistance. During driving additional data relating to environmental conditions, urban or motorway, modifies the appropriate assistance.
    One of the first problems to overcome was return to neutral or zero steering angle. This is activated with a reduction in force on the torsion bar, whereby the rate of return is also a function of environmental influences. The dual steering angle sensor is comprised of a LED and photo electric diode.

    The steering torque sensor operates on the magnetic resistance principle. Failure results in a gradual reduction in assistance. The asynchronous brushless motor provides up to 4nm of assistance. Once again emphasis should be directed to programming and adaptive correction via e serial platform.

    Stability & proximity
    When introducing vehicle stability dynamics, even more data is required: An accelerometer as well as yaw and  pitch sensors will complement existing input requirements. Enhanced and shared functionality with ABS enables the braking system to support vehicle control through corners by applying a control force through the rear brakes.

    We now need to consider the vehicle proximity control system; the system employs an ultrasonic sensor to monitor and determine the environment. However, this interim system has several critical shortcomings, especially due to its narrow detection field and inaccurate position calculation regarding other vehicles and obstacles. The next modular enhancement introduces side or blind spot monitoring or side assist. This system also has limitations with range and vector limitations. Although operating on a high speed can network, it operates on a master slave principle, for example; slave units only transmit data and diagnostics on demand from the master module.

    It is of note that the vehicle now relies on no less than 13 control modules, with predictive position algorithms. Later evolution will include optical, video, ultrasound, infrared and laser. Optical lane assist which is mounted on the windscreen requires considerable coding and calibration, notwithstanding windshield replacement, so much for off-site repairers.

    Calibration & correction
    Calibration requires determination of the camera orientation, the exact installed location, the height at which the camera is installed and three orientation measurements. This is an electronic function as no mechanical adjustment is provided. Therefore any change in tyre, wheel diameter or suspension repair or modification will invalidate this system accuracy, including fault memory errors.

    We now move into the era of de-coupling direct driver steering input. This system allows computer correction of steering angle. For example, with a loss of driver control, ESP can introduce a counter steer input to regain control. This system is intended to maintain the maximum static traction between the road surface and tyre. Should this be insufficient to maintain a safe curve radius, the ABS can be employed to help recover the vehicle attitude.

    The system can carry out actual steering angle correction while the driver maintains a different steering wheel input, such as on snow, ice, or on flooded road surface conditions. In order to facilitate this function, a mechanical flexi-coupling is mounted in the upper steering column. The outer has 100 teeth, with the inner posessing 102. They can rotate together as one with direct driver input command or can rotate at a different angle disengaging driver direct input control.

    In effect this system still complies with statutory requirements as having still a de-facto fail-safe mechanical connection between driver and steering mechanism. Therefore is still level 0 status, in terms of autonomy.

    At this point we are a million miles from even level 2 or 3 autonomous control. Level 3 allows for the driver to release physical contact with vehicle controls yet remain available and alert in case of system failure. Please make your own mind up. However, I’m not for turning!



  • Engine management: Past and future  

    I have long accepted that nothing stands still for long in this industry. Just when you think you have a grasp of the subject something is sure to upset it. Nothing illustrates this more than powertrain diagnostics. Initially this was called fuel injection, and later became engine management. Now I’m afraid it’s even more complex.
    I find myself fortunate to have been there at the beginning; Bosch l Jetronic, a 25 pin ECU with if I recall correctly, only 13 pins occupied. No serial diagnostics, no specific tools. So why was I fortunate? Consider my reflection on diagnostics back in the late 1970s and see if they are still applicable today.

    Firstly, you had to understand what the system had to achieve, what components it had at its disposal, what role they played and how they interacted within that system.

    The next challenge was measurement values; what to expect under a variety of conditions, and what equipment was required to access this information. This all seems so straightforward now, but in those days it was a little like Columbus sailing across the ocean. He knew it was wet, he needed a boat, he knew which way west was, despite this being blasphemy in the eyes of the Pope, and so set off without a clue as to what was out there.

    Hardly a logical diagnostic process, however I was writing the rule book and did understand the meaning of the words test don’t guess. So, what’s changed that undermines these basic principles?

    Acessibility
    With even the most basic of vehicles now relying on a level of technology that makes accessibility almost impossible, OE manufacturers totally forbid any intrusion within the wiring loom and I am sure this explains the why design and manufacture precludes access as a high priority. However, we are brave, and have the Starship Enterprise at our disposal for our journey of discovery.
    The problem is one of integration. Systems don’t function in isolation any more, and Columbus now has to map the Americas and Australia at the same time. In order to conduct an accurate assessment of a function it must be in its natural environment and be observed when functioning normally.

    Complexity
    This is not restricted to a physical state. It also includes software, algorithms, and predictive response, correction or adaptive action. Systems now change their mode of operation based on environmental influences, affected by a very wide range of changing influences. Cylinder select or dynamic stability comes to mind. The driver selects an option from a long list of choices, engine, transmission, and chassis. I used to say that for a function to occur it must have a command followed by response. In today’s world,  the command may be a software decision followed by a constantly changing response, stratified and homogenous fuelling, infinitely changing camshaft timing and variable valve lift to name a few.

    Test options
    Manufacturers are driven by non-intrusive process dictated by guided diagnostics. Pre-determined test plans more often or not end with a pass or fail result, foregoing any data reveal.  Is this due to a control of process and cost, or a mistrust in their techs? Actual evaluation of circuits, voltage, current or complex profile is getting ever more difficult. Attachment of gauges in order to measure pressure and flow is often restricted by sealed transit hoses or internal ducting within castings. Serial data has become so much, more powerful and trustworthy, however it does not and will not replace the functions available from an oscilloscope. Specialist mechanical tools and assembly techniques prohibit casual examination, due to cost or the ever more common single fitment parts.

    Data extraction
    This may lie in a multitude of directions; Physical extraction, camshaft timing, fuel quantity per stroke via the serial port or fuel pressure rise time via the scope. We are forced to monitor not just a physical value, but not how the PCM is adjusting or adapting a value. How do we know the parameters of operation when VMs are removing more and more data in favour of the pass-fail flags from a software automated test profile?

    SENT
    Rieve gauche, no not a walk along the Left Bank, but a completely new protocol for data and diagnostic transmission. SENT has been developed specifically for automotive applications, rather than being a black-market hooky copy from other engineering developments. SENT stands for single edge nibble transmission, and is a uni-directional out-only data line to the PCM. SENT is essentially a serial interface, used predominantly with throttle position, air mass and temperatures. The basic unit of time is the tick, with a minimum data unit nibble. 0Data transmission speeds over fast or slow channels, where bitrate can also vary: 1xtick= 3us. In essence it is very similar to a single channel can transmission, where the function includes synchronisation, calibration, CRC and checksum.
    How am I to challenge the authenticity of data? For example, sensor error may come from power or ground discrepancies, range error, environment influences, calibration error or simply a genuine condition fault. Its design is of course intended to provide an autonomous diagnostic platform via the serial port, excluding any assessment by the techs.

    Full circle
    What does this mean for the industry? I suspect it will go full circle back to the 1970s, when part swapping was the norm for Christopher Columbus frauds.

  • 888... Lucky for some 

    With this month’s focus in Aftermarket on cooling, I thought a look at how technology has affected one of the oldest systems of the internal combustion engine. For illustration, I have chosen the Volkswagen Auto Group’s en888 engine, built in Mexico, Hungary and China hence the 888 insignia; It is their lucky number.

    Its one of Audi’s high-performance variants. Its fitted in my Seat Cupra 2ltr, producing 400bhp with stock mechanicals. So, what are the benefits of advanced cooling systems? Heat derived from combustion, transferred by conduction and convection into cooling and the environment is in effect wasted energy. Controlling and where necessary containing it improves efficiency, not forgetting reductions in emission pollution.

    Efforts
    They have made stringent efforts in the mechanical design of the 888 to achieve savings in efficiency. Reducing engine weight, minimising internal friction, increasing power and torque, current with fuel economy initiatives.

    The cylinder block wall is reduced from 3.5mm to 3.00mm. Internal friction is reduced with smaller main bearing journals, revised timing chain design, incorporating a dual pressure lubricating system. The balance shaft has roller bearings, piston cooling jets further improve thermal stability. The jets have PCM mapped control, while extra oil cooling is provided adjacent the filter housing, close to the activation solenoid and twin oil pressure sensors.

    The engine can theoretically reach Lambda 1 from cold within 20-30 seconds.

    Further technical innovations include reduced oil level, reduced tension force in the auxiliary chain mechanism, down shifting achieved with variable valve lift and twin scroll direct mount turbo design.

    Advances
    You will now appreciate that it is no longer possible to separate mechanical design, power delivery, emissions, and all-round efficiency, treating cooling as an afterthought.

    Take the cylinder block design, which possibly has the biggest advances reserved within the cylinder head and coolant control module (water pump). The exhaust manifold is housed completely within the cylinder head casting. This ensures very effective conductance of heat. The emphasis is now on increase, maintain, reduce, thanks to an advanced dual valve PCM controlled coolant control module. The module is mounted at the rear of the engine block, belt-driven with a cooling fan to keep the belt cool.
    By manipulating the two rotary valves, flow and temperature can be effectively controlled within very carefully controlled limits. The rotary valves are manipulated by a PWM 1000hz motor with SENT position feedback (single edge nibble transmission), a method used by the latest air mass meters.

    Heat transfer into and from the turbo is much more efficient due partly to the direct mount and integrated cooling galleries surrounding the exhaust tracts.

    The piston to wall clearance has been increased, with a special coating on the piston thrust side complimenting a direct gudgeon pin to rod contact, the DLC coating removes the need for a bearing bush.

    The cylinder head porting incorporates ignition sequence separation, thus ensuring preceding exhaust pulses do not impede the energy from the current. This in combination with advanced turbine design further improves torque range and downshifting. Cooling control priority is applied to the occupants, then the transmission, further reducing frictional losses.

    Complexity
    Although not directly related to the cooling system, a dual injection system is fitted with its main function being emission reduction. Cold start is provided with three direct injection events, followed by port injection warm up. These systems do not run in tandem. Two thirds of the load range is controlled by port injection, with full load above 4,000 rpm delivered by induction stroke direct fuel delivery.

    From a practical point of view, previous low-tech tasks like replacing coolant components and bleeding now requires electronic support through the serial interface. Using the correct antifreeze is now essential if premature corrosion is to be avoided. As a warning, capillary coolant invasion within wiring looms is well known in some French and GM vehicles, as some of you will be aware.
    It is also worth mentioning that Volkswagen has modified the software controlling cooling in some of their diesel vehicles as part of the emission recall programme.

    Predictably due to their complexity, I can foresee cooling systems being neglected during routine servicing , so expect to see faults as these systems age in the pre-owned market.


  • Part two The good and THE GREAT  

    In part one, we looked at the start of the ‘diagnostic process.’ The first steps were customer questioning, confirming the fault and knowing the system and its function. These help the technician to build the ‘big picture’ necessary to repair the vehicle correctly.
    In this article we will look at the next four steps.

    Step 4: Gather evidence
    It is easy to overlook this step as many technicians think of it as the overall ‘diagnosis.’ However, once the technician understands the system, gathering evidence will provide key information. This step is normally best carried out with the use of test equipment that does not mean the dismantling of systems and components.

    Many technicians have their own favourite tools and equipment but this list can include (but not limited to)
    the following:
    Scan tool – It is always best practice to record the fault codes present, erase the codes, and then recheck. This means codes which reappear are still current. Remember that a fault code will only indicate a fault with a circuit or its function. It is not always the component listed in the fault code that is at fault

    Oscilloscope – An oscilloscope can be used for a multitude of testing/initial measuring without being intrusive. Some oscilloscope equipment suppliers are looking at systems within high voltages hybrid/electric vehicle technology. The waveforms produced by the test equipment can be used when analysing the evidence and may indicate that a fault exists within a system. An understanding of the system being tested will be necessary to understand the information. This may even include performing sums so all those missed maths lessons at school may come back to haunt you. It may take time to become confident analysing the waveforms, so be patient

    Temperature measuring equipment – This can include the use of thermal imaging cameras. Most systems that produce energy/work will also produce some heat. The temperatures produced vary from system to system. Examples include everything from engine misfires to electrical components, as well as air conditioning system components and mechanical components such as brake and hub assemblies. The possibilities are endless and results can be thought provoking.

    Emission equipment – By measuring the end result, an exhaust gas analyser can show you if the engine is functioning correctly. The incorrect emissions emitted from the exhaust help indicate a system fault or a mechanical fault with the engine

    Technical service bulletins – Many vehicle manufacturers produce technical service bulletins (TSBs) that are generated by a central point (usually a technical department) from the information that is gathered from their network of dealers. Some of these may be available to the independent sector either through the VM or through a third party – It’s always worth checking if these exist. They may indicate a common fault that has been reported similar to that the technician is facing. Some test equipment suppliers may provide TSBs as part of a diagnostic tool package

    Software updates – Many vehicle systems are controlled by a ECU. Most vehicle manufacturers are constantly updating system software to overcome various faults/  customer concerns. Simply by updating the software can fix the vehicles problem without any other intervention of repairing a possible fault. This is where having a link to a vehicle manufacturer is vital in repairing the vehicle

    Hints & tips – Most technicians will have a link or access to a vehicle repair forum where they can ask various questions on vehicle faults and may get some indication of which system components are likely to cause a vehicle fault

    Functional checks – Vehicle systems are interlinked and typically share information using a vehicle network. The fault may cause another system to function incorrectly, so it is vitally important that the technician carries out a functional check to see if the reported fault has an effect on another system. By carrying out this check the technician again is building the big picture

    Actuator checks – Most systems today are capable of performing actuator tests. The technician can perform various checks to components to check its operation and if the system ECU can control the component, often reducing the time to the diagnosis, by performing this task the technician can identify whether it is the control signal, wiring or component or it is sensor wiring. This function can be used in conjunction with serial data to see how the system reacts as the component functions

    Serial (live) data – The technician can typically review a vehicle system serial data through a scan tool. Having live data readings to refer to can help you review the data captured. Using actuator checks and viewing the serial data can also help the technician to identify a system fault

    Remember to record all the evidence gathered so it can be analysed during the next step in the diagnosis. We can’t remember everything. If the technician needs to contact a technical helpline they will ask for the actual readings obtained recoding the data gathered will help.

    Step 5: Analyse the evidence
    Analysing evidence gathered during the previous steps can take time. The technician needs to build the big picture from all the evidence gathered during the first few steps. You need to analyse the information gathered, and decide on what information is right and wrong.

    This step may rely on experience as well as knowledge on the product. You should take your time – don’t be hurried. Time spent in the thinking stages of the diagnosis can save time later. Putting pressure on the technician can lead to errors being made. It may be necessary to ask the opinion of other technicians. If the evidence is documented it may be easier to analyse or share between others.

    Step 6: Plan the test routine
    After analysing the evidence gathered it’s now time to start to ‘plan’ the best way to approach to the task or tasks in hand.

    The technician should plan their test routine, decide on what test equipment should they use, what results are they expecting, if the result is good or bad  and which component should they test next.

    Document the plan – this enables you to review decisions made at this stage in the next step. The technician may not always get it right as there may be various routes to test systems/components. The test routine may have to be revisited depending on the results gathered during testing. Documenting the test routine will provide a map.  Also, don’t forget to list the stages, as this is something that could be incorporated into an invoicing structure later.

    The technician should indicate on the routine what readings they expect when they carry out the system testing. This can be generated by their own knowledge/skill or the expected readings may come from vehicle information which they have already sourced. If the information is not known at the time the test routine is planned, then the test routine may highlight what information is required and what test equipment is needed. You shouldn’t be afraid to revisit the plan at any time and ask further questions on which direction the tests should take. If the plan is well documented and the technician becomes stuck at any point, they can pause the process and revisit later. Also the information can then be shared with various helplines that support workshop networks.

    Step 7: System testing
    The technician then follows their pre-determined plan, if it is documented they can record the results of the test(s) as they follow the routine.

    Many technicians tend to go a little off-piste when they get frustrated. Having the routine documented can keep the technician on track and focused on the result. If the routine is followed and the fault cannot be found the technician may have to go back to the analysing the evidence or planning the test routine. The technician shouldn’t be scared of going back a few steps, as I said previously analysing the evidence takes practice and can be time consuming, not to be rushed.
        
    Summing up
    Remember to follow the process. It is easy to be led off track by various distractions but don’t try to short circuit the process. Some steps may take longer than first thought to accomplish than others. Some distractions may be outside of your control, and it may be necessary to educate others. Practice, practice, practice. Refine the process to fit in with your business and its practices, the business could align its estimating/cost modelling to the process, being able to charge effectively and keeping the customer informed at each stage of the process.

    Coming up...
    In the next article I will be looking at the next four steps which are; Step 8: Conclusion (the root cause), Step 9: Rectify the fault and Step 10: Recheck the system(s). The last article in this series will indicate the final three steps and how to fit them all together in order to become a great technician and perhaps succeed in Top Technician or Top Garage in 2018.



  • ADAS is the word 

    Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have gone from a nice-to-have to a legal requirement in a relatively short space of time.

    It is a huge market and it is growing, so more and more cars coming through the door have these systems. This means that if garages don’t have the knowledge, training and equipment required to calibrate ADAS systems correctly, they could be ruling themselves out of business entirely.

    The future, today
    ADAS is the word, and it is the future, today. Robin Huish, Managing Director of Hickleys agrees: “ADAS was an increasing topic of conversation throughout 2018, continues to be in 2019 and this sure to continue  in the coming years. The level of ADAS systems being installed on new cars is increasing rapidly but that doesn’t mean this is something you can consider for the future; ADAS systems fitted to vehicles regularly coming into the independent garage need repair and calibration now.
    “If you want to offer a complete service to your customers you need to consider equipping your workshops and assembling the knowledge to deal with ADAS as soon as possible. One thing is for sure these systems are not going to go away and the demand for service and calibration will rapidly increase.”

    Camera and Radar
    Robin breaks down the opportunity: “ADAS systems are developed to improve safety and lead to better driving. Safety features are designed to avoid collisions and accidents by offering technologies that alert the driver to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safeguards and in some cases taking over control of the vehicle.
    “Broadly the market splits into two sectors, Camera and Radar. The equipment required to work with both systems varies. Camera was first to impact the independent market in a big way, with a front-facing camera fitted to a windscreen. When a windscreen is replaced the camera requires recalibration. Most windscreen replacement companies now are able to carry out this task with carefully chosen diagnostic scan tools and calibration hardware. This has now become a major part of their income stream. Recently the ability to offer mobile calibration equipment has again increased the opportunity for mobile diagnostic specialists to carry out these tasks. Of course, windscreen replacement is just one market sector that needs ADAS equipment. Crash repairers, diagnostic specialists, independent garages, fast fits and fleet workshops will all face the need to repair front and rear camera systems.

    “Radar is the fastest expanding area, firstly using front and rear detection but now covering the whole surrounding area of the car including blind spots, pedestrian detection, traffic signal information and emergency braking. The equipment required for radar calibration is similar to camera, again using carefully selected diagnostic scan tools and various radar attachments and accessories. This can be an expansion of the camera equipment using the same basic equipment and stand. Again for the mobile specialist, the equipment is easily transported.”

    Forward-thinking
    How does a garage incorporate ADAS into their business? “ADAS calibrations are usually around £150 to £250,” says Robin, “and diagnostic repairs where an ADAS system has failed adds many hundreds of pounds of revenue to a forward-thinking garage.”
    What about kit? “There is a range of equipment available from diagnostic suppliers such as Bosch, Texa and Hickleys’ exclusive brand RCCT. With prices from only £4,995 joining the ADAS boom is surprisingly easy with repayments from as little as £27 per week.”

    Robin says think before you leap though: “One word of warning is to carefully select your equipment and speak to a specialist that doesn’t represent just one brand. Get an
    on-site demonstration and review the options considering all aspects of the market, consider carefully your chosen diagnostic tool as well. ADAS information varies dramatically from tool to tool and some manufacturers are locking down their software so it can only be used with their hardware. This is fine if they cover everything but what happens if they fall behind, do you buy it all again from another supplier?”

    Choice
    As with many areas, independents need to be strong and fight their corner: “Despite recent comments – generally from the those affiliated to the vehicle manufacturers or bodies closely associated – discouraging independents from recalibrating ADAS systems,” says Neil Hilton, Head of Business Development for Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS), “the fact remains that vehicles fitted with the technology are entering workshops daily. As a result, the sector needs to make a choice and either embrace it or ignore the opportunities it provides.”

    Legislation has its part to play: “Since 2016, to qualify for a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating, the VMs have to fit their vehicles with, as a minimum requirement, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. These are both complex systems that, following any intervention that affects their set-up, require specialist recalibration equipment to reset the cameras or radars on which the vehicle relies for its ADAS operation.”
    Neil continues: “This naturally includes accident damage and windscreen replacement, but it also encompasses general service and repair work, such as adjustment to the vehicle’s tracking or wheel alignment, as well as coil spring or steering component replacement. In short, anything that affects the vehicle’s geometry, because it is through this datum that ADAS functions are calibrated and then operate.”

    Commenting on the HGS offering, Neil says: “Clearly, VMs and their associates, do not want the independent sector to have any interaction with these systems, so unless independents are simply willing to cede the business back to the dealer, there has to be an aftermarket solution, which is what HGS has been championing for more than five years. HGS is the market leader for ADAS technology in the aftermarket and offers a comprehensive multi-brand solution, covering more than 92% of the UK’s ADAS equipped car parc. The company has become renowned for its knowledge and expertise on this complicated subject, with multiple high profile businesses, including Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre and Autoglass in the UK and Europe, CESVI in France and AIG Insurance Group, using the Hella Gutmann Solutions CSC (Camera and Sensor Calibration) tool to establish the standards the sector should be meeting in regards to ADAS recalibration. Therefore, providing an independent goes through the correct procedure in terms of setting-up the equipment that comes with the CSC tool – an operation that once learned takes only 20 minutes or so – it can undertake ADAS recalibration with complete confidence and to the same standard as the dealer.”
        
    Another issue for VMs  is the quality of the parts used in any pre-recalibration repair as they  prefer the use of their genuine parts programmes, installed by an affiliated dealer.
    “From an aftermarket perspective however,” Neil concludes, “provided the independent uses replacement components of comparable quality to the OE part, which are installed following the correct procedure, the repair will conform with Block Exemption regulations and the recalibration will be valid, so allowing the independent to compete with the dealer in an open and fair market.”


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