Automated Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems: Recalibrating the Collision Repair Industry

Automated Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) Calibration System
By: Mike Croker, Global Repair and Training Product Manager for Chief Collison Technology, part of Dover’s Vehicle Service Group (VSG) 

The adoption of automated advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in new vehicles is rapidly growing. There are close to 60 million vehicles in the U.S. that are equipped with some sort of ADAS features, like parking assistance, adaptive cruise control or collision-avoidance systems. 

Three years ago, the collision industry as a whole wasn’t talking much about ADAS — maybe a shop repaired a vehicle’s backup camera, but that was about it. Now, it’s expected that by 2022, the majority of all new vehicles on the market will have at least an automatic emergency braking system, and many OEMs say they plan to sell self-driving vehicles within the next five years. 

What does this all mean for the collision industry? It means ADAS is something that shops can no longer ignore. It’s not a matter of if they will have to repair a vehicle with ADAS, but a matter of when. 

Standardizing ADAS requirements 

Currently, when it comes to how shops address ADAS repairs, it’s a bit of the Wild West. Technology is constantly changing, and there’s no standardization of requirements around things like service documentation, accuracy requirements or training required to use ADAS recalibration systems. 

Shops are left wondering how to prepare for the continued evolution of ADAS and autonomous vehicles, and their impact on the collision repair industry. When it comes to ADAS aftermarket systems, not all systems are created equal. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to ADAS recalibration systems. 

Accuracy is more important than cycle time 

When a vehicle’s ADAS are damaged, recalibration is a critical part of the repair process. It’s imperative for technicians to understand what’s at stake if they aren’t repairing, recalibrating and testing vehicles correctly before sending them back out on the road. They could be risking not only the driver’s safety but also others’ safety on the road. 

Collision shops now need to be more concerned about accuracy when it comes to making repairs. With the growing prevalence of ADAS technology, collision shops should prioritize choosing an automatic ADAS recalibration system. Some products rely on tape measures, plumb bobs, physically lining up targets manually and driving the vehicle to recalibrate it, which opens the shop to a greater chance of human error. And with these systems, being off even a few millimeters could have major implications. Imagine a vehicle’s radar sensor is shooting a bit high and is off by a millimeter — now push that out 100 feet and suddenly the car’s front end collision warning system is overlooking a small car in front of them and they’re doing 60 miles an hour. 

However, cycle times aren’t going to go away as a means of measuring the productivity and profitability of a shop’s business. Understanding the time it takes to do a recalibration on a particular system is important, too. While some of the manual systems require a few hours to recalibrate, more automated systems can do recalibrations in as little as 15 minutes. 

Having access to current OEM repair information matters 

It’s also important to understand what type of recalibrations are required to fix a vehicle. Does the repair require radar recalibrations? Does the OEM require the repair to be done via static or dynamic calibration? And if you don’t know, do you have access to up-to-date information to ensure you’re doing the repair correctly and to OEM standards? 

OEMs are continually making tweaks and adjustments to their vehicles coming off the line. As a result, it’s important to look for an ADAS recalibration tool that has a direct connection to OEM data and is able to get real-time updates to the vehicle repair requirements as they become available. Having access to the most current requirements will help ensure the repairs are being done correctly and allow a shop to bring the vehicle back to factory settings. It should be noted that some aftermarket ADAS systems may not have the updated requirements for months or even a year after it was updated. 

Don’t skimp on training or documenting the repair process

Training is one of the biggest challenges the collision industry faces when it comes to accurate ADAS repairs. Some shops think the way they’ve always fixed vehicles will work. However, if shops aren’t investing in the proper technician training today, they are opening themselves up to greater legal risk and increased expense down the road. 

Today’s technology requires technicians to be more tech-savvy and understand the training requirements needed to work on a particular ADAS repair system. Are there certain training requirements that need to be met in order to use a system? Is there additional remote support provided if the technicians have questions? 

As a repair shop, now is the time to seek out systems that require certified training, provide additional technical support during the repair process and document the repair to ensure it was followed and done correctly. That way, if there’s an issue down the road, you have something stating that you followed and met the repair requirements. 

Shops need to make it a priority to get up to speed on requirements, testing and training needed for ADAS repair. Like any new equipment purchase, it’s important to take the time to weigh and understand the options available. But don’t take too long — ADAS-equipped vehicles are the future. And that future is already here.

This article originally appeared in the December 2019 edition of ABRN