Adapting Shops for ADAS
April 21, 2020—Cars are becoming more integrated with software and electronics every day, and manufacturers are constantly updating the necessary equipment and procedures to fix these systems. ADAS, or advanced driver-assistance systems, is one such group of systems that will require some expertise for collision repair. Bud Center, a subject matter expert with I-CAR, discusses where ADAS could go in the future and how to prepare for it.
A New Direction
“The number of vehicles with ADAS will continue to grow,” says Center. “We need to address it as part of the process.” So one of the biggest questions to ask is what the real-life implications of advancements in ADAS could lead to. Knowing that it involves driver assistance systems is all well and good, but what is it really leading to?
Center explains that OEMs are doing more with sensor fusion—the sensors in ADAS make sure the surroundings of the vehicle will be better detected and will likely lead to the most possibilities. Vehicles could start to read street signs, for example, buildings could have signs or symbols that allow ADAS sensors to detect their addresses, and more.
“It’s critical that the sensor mounting location is exactly where the manufacturer specifies,” Center says. “Some shops talk about a vehicle coming in for calibration, they can’t get it to calibrate, and they find out the sensor module is upside down or incorrectly installed or something. It needs to be right to last detail because it could cause an accident if sensors are miscalibrated.”
Furthermore, he says that connectivity between cars themselves could increase. There is the potential for ADAS to involve vehicle-to-vehicle communication, essentially allowing cars to talk to each other. Center also predicts that by 2025 some form of self-driving cars could be available. And these changes don’t just apply to collision repair shops— the evolving landscape of ADAS and other technologies is something everyone should keep an eye on.
Center also describes the need for collision techs to start preparing more for these upcoming changes. He emphasizes the perpetually-changing nature of ADAS and one mistake a lot of technicians continue to make when repairing these systems.
“Technicians need to make sure they stay current with OEM vehicle information,” he says. “They can’t assume something repaired last week will be the same repair next week—it’s always evolving.”
Keeping up to date with such information may seem difficult, but that isn’t the case. There are accessible information systems online, such as I-CAR’s OEM calibration matrix, which help connect collision repair people with the information they might need for equipment specific for manufacturers.
Technicians will also need to start developing skills that will be necessary to work with ADAS systems, Center continues. Even those that may seem beyond the scope of a tech. Knowing how to perform pre- and post-scans on cars, for example, is great—but that’s not everything one might have to be good at to work well with ADAS.
“Shops are more interested in hiring people with a strong electrical and diagnostic background,” Center says. “They’re looking for detail-oriented people who are interested in research.”
Being detail oriented is critical for the necessary precision of sensor mounting, as noted earlier. Additionally, being interested in research is important when one needs to constantly look up OEM information, and having a passing knowledge of electronics is only going to add to one’s repertoire.
Given the extent of ADAS’s looming expansions, it’s clear collision repair shops will have to make some changes, if they haven’t already. There is a necessity to adjust business models and repair plans to meet ADAS’s requirements, as Center goes on to explain.
“It’s really a business decision for the shop owners,” he says. “It’s going to be different for everyone. Focusing on specific manufacturers, for example, would reduce expenses for having tools for every manufacturer, and keeping up with training specific to each is also a lot.”
Repairing cars will also necessitate a change in shops. Center recommends having an ADAS designated repair area, since more and more system repairs are required to have a specific amount of space as designated by the OEM.
“Calibration, for example, is going to require a very large, specific amount of space to repair,” Center says. “The lighting has to be right, nothing reflective, and there has to be a level floor.”
However, if expansion is unfeasible for a shop, Center notes that he’s seen success when shops partner with external businesses that can handle ADAS type repairs.