Close to 60 million vehicles with an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) are on the road today. Either by government regulation or vehicle brands wanting to meet consumer desires, that number will only grow. As of May 2018, backup cameras became a mandated feature on new vehicles in the United States and Canada. And by this September, twenty automakers say that 95 percent of their vehicles will include Forward Collison Warning (FCW) and city-speed Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). Audi, BMW, Ford/Lincoln, Honda/Acura, Hyundai/Genesis, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota/Lexus, Volkswagen, and Volvo have already met that goal.
Many, if not most, of these vehicles have camera-dependent systems such as Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection and even some Blind Spot Detection (BSD). And these are just the basic systems at this time. The front-facing cameras are also used in traffic sign recognition, automatic parking, cross-traffic alert, and adaptive lighting systems. These technologies’ emergence and increasing popularity have added layers of complexity, time, and cost to vehicle repairs, including glass repair and replacement.
How vital is calibration to the effectiveness of ADAS? Consider this Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test highlighting the frightening result of a misaligned front camera and its effect on the safety system. The IIHS tested a vehicle with a front-facing camera misaligned by 0.6 degrees to the right. This variance affected “the perceived collision-threat, thus delaying the driver’s prompt or brake warning and then delaying when the vehicle itself initiates braking,” the IIHS found. The result was a warning prompt that gave the driver just 2.8 seconds to respond and gave the vehicle just 0.9 seconds to brake. It didn’t, and the vehicle collided with the obstacle at 20 mph.
It’s essential to not simply learn the basic concepts behind today’s vehicles’ many advanced systems but also be knowledgeable about the different ways each brand and model uses the data from these input devices — including the cameras and radar sensors — to control how the vehicle reacts. Therefore, it falls on the technician’s shoulders to learn the systems of the vehicles they most often service and continues to keep up with emerging trends.
So, it’s more than comforting that Autel, a leading developer of automotive diagnostic scan tools, produces two ADAS calibration systems, the MaxiSYS Standard Frame, and the MaxiSYS MA600, a mobile frame system. Both systems provide upgradeable options to enable technicians to efficiently calibrate cameras, night vision, Lidar, and radar-based systems that are instrumental to vehicle operations and the safety of its passengers.
The Autel calibration systems include patterns, targets, radar, and night vision calibration tools used with the MaxiSYS ADAS software. In addition to communicating with the ADAS component and initiating calibration, the tablet displays basic yet essential OE-vehicle requirements to ensure correct vehicle height, such as parking on level ground, filling fuel and fluids, and carrying no additional cargo. Each calibration screen lists the tools needed, including the correct vehicle-specific target or pattern part number. The tablet displays exact OE-specific measurements and easy-to-follow instructions. The standard frame system is also available with the IA800 optical frame-to-vehicle positioning system that uses six cameras and wheel-clamp targets to quickly set the frame’s distance, angle, and offset to the vehicle. The use of the IA800 significantly reduces the pre-calibration setup time—the most time-consuming part of the entire calibration process.
As automakers advance their systems toward the autonomous vehicle, there is little doubt that these drivers’ assist technologies will necessitate technicians and their shops to evolve and adapt their learning curve to prosper.