ADAS: Truths and Consequences
Contributed by Bob Chabot
The continued evolution of electronic integration into what was once purely mechanical components and/or systems is relevant to equipment and tool manufacturers, service/repair facilities, owners and technicians. In particular, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are important gateways to improved safety, connected driving and autonomous vehicle development that is propelling the industry forward.
Awareness of how inspection, communication, service, diagnostics and repair procedures are executed is critical, and it’s getting more so with each new model year. In addition, proper ADAS tooling and OEM service information is crucial to performing complete ADAS-related service and repair. ToolTech 2017 featured an ADAS Panel, which keyed on these issues, moderated by ETI Member Robert Vogt, CEO of IOSiX. The esteemed group of panelists included:
- Ted Ginnity, North East Sales Manager, Hella Gutmann Solutions
- Kaleb Silver, Senior Product Manager, Product Management, Hunter Engineering Company
- Craig Smith, Research Director of Transportation Security, Rapid7. Smith is also the founder of Open Garages, a distributed collective of performance tuners, mechanics, security researchers and artists.
- Joshua Stone, Manager, Special Tools, American Honda Motor Company
The spiraling proliferation of ADAS functionality is increasing software on vehicles at an exponential rate, which is sparking significant changes in how data has been managed, processed, communicated and secured. (Image — Hella Gutmann)
ADAS Presents Technical, Operational and Business Challenges
The session began with each of the panelists making a brief presentation describing how ADAS was impacting their company and its customers. To help guide and focus discussion, Vogt asked a series of questions designed to garner comment and insight from the speakers. The session ended with a brief Q&A period for attendees. Here’ a brief synopsis of the topics covered.
Stone, Silver and Ginnity all agreed that nearly all 2017 and newer models will feature ADAS technologies. “Overall, nearly 95 percent of new vehicles today in the U.S. feature ADAS technologies,” Silver noted. “How much ADAS is onboard does vary though,” Ginnity noted. “The presence of ADAS content in European vehicles is about double that of U.S. made automobiles, but that gap is closing quickly.” One of the forces driving this is a change in safety rating criteria. For instance, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) now requires certain ADAS features to be onboard for a vehicle to receive its highest safety rating.”
“While having the latest software patches is important for computers and cell phones, it is absolutely critical when it comes to safety within a vehicle,” Smith advised. The typical high-end car has roughly 200 million lines of code, he noted. Industry-wide, software has an average of 15 to 50 errors per 1,000 lines, which means your average car has between 3 million and 10 million bugs buried somewhere within its code. “Hence, patching software to (1) debug and (2) keep it fully functional is a major ongoing challenge ADAS developers face.”
“The total time that a car is supported by the manufacturer from design through end-of-life is a related challenge,” he added. “The average car takes five years to go from initial development to production, after which they have an average lifespan of 11.5 years, which results in an average total of 16.5 years. That’s a very long time for software to go, with or without being patched, let alone changes in technology over that timeframe. In addition, history has shown us that many rental car companies and consumers won’t do patches, even when advised. But that doesn’t relieve OEMs and service professionals of their responsibility to advise vehicle owners.”
How software patches and updates are delivered is shifting in response to the proliferation of software in ADAS and other systems. As vehicle increasingly become part of the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting and interfacing with an ever-expanding spectrum of vehicle manufacturer, commercial and other services will follow. Consequently, the software in modern vehicles will continue to grow to millions of lines of ever-evolving code. Keeping this highly complex system of software, mechatronics and electronics up-to-date, let alone installing new software functions post sale, in a word, has become problematic.
Continental, in conjunction with satellite broadcast provider Inmarsat are now able to offer automakers the ability to provide over-the-air updates around the globe for the entire vehicle electronics suite with the simple push of a button. (Image — Inmarsat)
The traditional norm of having vehicle software updated done during a trip to the auto repair shop is being disrupted, with the effects about to impact service facilities, equipment and tool manufacturer, information providers and consumers. Many Tier 1 suppliers — such as Bosch, Continental, Delphi and ZF — are now developing technologies that enable over-the-air (OTA) software updates of electronic control units across the entire vehicle from powertrain to infotainment systems, without the necessity of a shop visit.
“Until recently the number of electronic control units in the vehicle connected directly or indirectly to the cloud has been extremely limited and the demand for OTA updates was low,” explained Helmut Matschi, head of Continental’s Interior Division. “But as vehicles have become more connected, uploading new functions, greater system complexity as well as the high need for security and safety has created a strong need for over-the-air updates. We can now offer automakers the most efficient and secure means to deliver common content OTA to millions of vehicles — from vehicle software and cybersecurity updates to precise positioning data — enabling vehicle owners to bypass the complexity of dealing with multiple mobile network operators and inconvenient service facility visits.”
While not all automakers have adopted the practice of diagnostic pre- and post-scans, the industry trend is headed that way. Several have position statements on the subject, such as Honda (above), General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and others. (Image — American Honda)
Diagnostic Pre- and Post-Scans Address Risk and Liability Concerns
Jason Bartanen, the Director of Industry Technical Relations, noted that automakers are trending toward including diagnostic pre- and post-scans of vehicles as bookends to a collision repair. “While not all automakers have adopted the practice of diagnostic pre- and post-scans, the industry trend is headed that way. Many OEMs now either recommend or require the scans in their service information and/or written position statements. Several industry associations, including ETI, also have position statements supporting pre- and post-scans. For instance, click here to view the ETI statement.
“Technicians who follow proper pre- and post-repair diagnostic scanning procedures have the edge when it comes to customer satisfaction, because dashboard lights can’t tell you everything that’s going on with a vehicle’s electronics,” John Eck, Collision Manager for GM Customer Care and Aftersales. “With pre- and post-scans, technicians will start with the right diagnosis and right parts out of the gate, they’ll reduce repair cycle times and they should see fewer follow-up visits. More importantly, the scans will help ensure that the vehicle and its safety systems are returned to their pre-crash conditions.”
“In addition to Honda having a position statement on diagnostic pre- and post-scanning, service professionals need to be aware there are very OEM-specific tools and procedures to service ADAS technologies,” acknowledged Stone. “It causes us — and likely every automaker — great concern when ADAS repairs aren’t properly effected. At Honda, for example, we’ve noticed that some technicians — at both dealerships and aftermarket collision shops — take shortcuts.” To demonstrate this, he played a Honda “what not to do” video that showed many examples of how easily shortcuts can compromise ADAS service. “When all the necessary steps in critical safety systems are not properly made, it put lives are at stake. We as an industry must make sure service/repair technician not only knows what to do, but actually follows the proper procedures and steps to effect a complete repair.”
Fair enough, when the service information and other resources are readily available. But that isn’t always the case, for all makes and models, pointed out Aaron Lowe, Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Government Affairs, Auto Care Association. “VIN-specific ‘as built’ data and adequate service and programming information for advanced driver-assistance systems for some vehicles already being sold in the marketplace is not always available to service professionals. Yet both are critical to providing a complete, efficient and liability-free ADAS service/repair. Make no mistake: When the procedures are in service information, and a shop/technician takes on the responsibility for service/repair, they also take on the liability if substandard service is performed.”
“In the eyes of the courts, automakers and service professionals may take on liability to provide proper and complete repairs even without adequate information and procedures being available,’ Silver cautioned. “There have already been a number of incidents in litigation and reported in the press,” He cited a recent case involving Toyota lane change detection, an ADAS technology located in vehicle side mirrors. During the collision repair, the driver side mirror was not calibrated properly (sensor alignment was off of true by five degrees). The vehicle left the shop this way, and was involved in a subsequent accident, not because the lane departure system didn’t function, but rather because it wasn’t calibrated to do so accurately. As ETI President Brian Herron pointed out, “Pre and post-scanning is just the tip of iceberg. You just can’t put the parts in and let the car roll away without knowing ADAS and other systems are working properly.”
For purposes of fully informing all vehicle owners in all cases (not just collision repairs), let alone the liability risks involved, this author wonders if the industry has gone far enough. Would it not be a prudent practice for all automakers to require diagnostic pre- and post-scans for all service/repair visits — whether collision or mechanical in nature? In particular, for any facility servicing ADAS-equipped vehicles, as the last shop visited, not checking and advising consumers could potentially be problematic for the shop, automaker, insurers and others in the line of fire.
The tool and calibration equipment investment required to fully service/repair ADAS, especially for European models such as the Audi Q7 above, can be expensive. In addition, calibrating ADAS systems often requires more clear shop floor space — wider and longer — than usual for a service bay to calibrate, align and program camera, radar and other ADAS sensors (Image — Hunter Engineering Co.)
Calibration is the Elephant in the Room
“ADAS is a game changer,” Silver explained. “It takes additional time, tools and equipment, as well as shop floor space to effect ADAS service and repairs. For example, it takes a significant investment by a shop to buy all the tools and calibration necessary to provide ADAS services, especially in the case of European brands. In addition, that investment can be significant for each brand, as tools and equipment are brand- and sometimes model-specific.”
“Hunter customers are seeing ADAS impact wheel alignment and other services they provide,” he continued. “For example, once a wheel alignment has been completed, many automakers now require checks and calibrations for lane departure, adaptive cruise control and other ADAS technologies. These include steering angle sensor resets, verifying that camera, radar and Lidar equipment is properly positioned and aligned (with respect to the vehicle’s direction of travel), and even replacing windshields equipped with sensors.” He then shared Audi, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Nissan videos to demonstrate this.
“Anytime we launch a new vehicle model, we ship the necessary tools and calibration equipment to our dealers,” Stone added. “They don’t get a choice, and they are charged for it. Aftermarket shops are able to purchase it at the same cost as dealers.”
“In my experience, that’s a fairly standard practice across automakers,” continued Ginnity, who leads Hella’s Diagnostic Project, which is trying to facilitate the service/repair of ADAS technologies by aftermarket shops that work on multiple makes and models. “But there’s no question in my mind that the industry needs to take a systems approach. For example, standardization of the tools, equipment, procedures and other requirements to service and repair ADAS would greatly ease the burden faced by service and repair facilities. It’s clear that while we all recognize this, but getting there is still a long way off.”
Calibrating sensitive ADAS technologies in vehicles requires expensive and often bulky equipment. Automakers typically specify the equipment required for its makes and models, making the investment by a multi-brand aftermarket shop expensive. But similar to the evolution of scan tools, some aftermarket companies have developed more generic and affordable calibration equipment, such as Hella Gutmann’s CSC tool pictured. (Image — Hella Gutmann)
“The advent of ADAS, telematics and other software-intensive technologies has, and will continue to change the industry,” Smith shared. “In the past, our focus was more on making repairs that were more mechanical than digital in nature. Connected and integrated systems like ADAS have forced a paradigm shift. ADAS systems provide customers with information, largely software-derived, to help them make better decisions. We must align our services and performance to meet customer expectations.”
“Our role in ADAS service and repair technologies is to bring vehicles back to their original design intent,” he continued. “With ADAS, we aren’t making traditional modifications. Right now, for the millions or cars on road or coming down the pipeline, our checks and calibration procedures are more rudimentary and physical in nature. In time, however, we can expect to have tools, equipment and other resources with built-in intelligent learning and to help perform these service more thoroughly, automatically and efficiently.”
Following the ADAS session at ToolTech 2017, I asked Moderator Vogt to summarize the takeaways he saw for ETI members. “In general, I think it’s very interesting to see how fragmented the calibrations space is for these very similar systems.”
“This will create both waste and opportunities for ETI, its members and the aftermarket in general. All of the purchasing of thousands of expensive specialty calibration targets, tools and other resources for each make-model-year makes for an unnecessary waste. Ways that improve the fragmented calibration space or monetize the rental or sharing of the calibration targets are two examples of opportunities.”
“It’s also important for OEMs to understand the impact of inconsistent testing procedures as well as the measures users may take to get around them, which could easily compromise safety. And as ‘smart’ vehicle and transportation systems evolve, security will be a huge part of ADAS going forward.”