Dealing with advances in driver assistance

When Henry Ford rolled out the first car 125 years ago, could he possibly have imagined that today’s technology would enable an array of sensors and cameras to be at the centre of motorist safety?
Whether or not he envisaged such systems, vehicles are now equipped with multiple components that act as an extension of awareness – and collision avoidance – for drivers around the world. Global sales of vehicles fitted with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are expected to reach just under $2bn by 2026.
The ADAS revolution is well under way and we should expect exponential growth in the number of systems added to vehicles from now on. For example, market analysis by I-Car Australia in 2020 revealed that standard fitment of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) featured on three percent of Australian new light vehicles in December 2015 but had risen to 54 percent by mid-2019.
Of course, widespread fitment of ADAS already goes well beyond AEB, including: blind spot monitoring; adaptive cruise control; following distance warning; lane keep assist; lane departure warning; self-parking; adaptive headlights; fatigue warning; traffic jam assist; and more.
Some safety systems are uniquely adapted for Australian roads, such as Smart City Brake Support and High Beam Control. The latter, for example, are tuned to ensure unique red roadside reflectors found in Australia will not turn off automatic high beam.
The bulk of the industry isn’t blind to the challenges posed by the prospect of ADAS-enabled vehicles pouring off the production lines and onto roads.
Nevertheless, repairers and accessory developers and fitters must ensure they are completely aware of emerging ADAS technologies and possess the skills to return fully safe vehicles to motorists.
The aforementioned I-Car study claims a “significant portion” of the insurance and repair industry has not adopted new ADAS repair competencies, in the belief that those requirements are on the horizon rather than needed today.
The report declares: “The reality is the systems are here now, action is required now, and delays may result in injuries and potential fatalities among Australia’s motoring public.”
This is an issue Thatcham Research has tackled during the past few years, in a bid to bring standardisation to ADAS identification and repair in the UK.
Likewise, in Australia, the AAAA’s Auto Innovation Centre (AIC) is working to develop and standardise testing procedures for vehicle modifiers and accessory manufacturers to ensure that they can modify vehicles and fit accessories without compromising ADAS.
It is not feasible for accessory manufactures to fully ‘crash test’ every single one of their products when fitted to every model and vehicle variant, therefore a standardised test must be developed that ensures safety compliance and consumer confidence without adding significant knock-on cost to the product end-user.

Luke Truskinger, Managing Director of the AIC says his team is looking closely at Australian Design Rules (ADR) 98 – which was approved late last year to regulate AEB and will be fully implemented between 2023 and 2026 – to work with the relevant government departments to develop testing parameters for the Australian aftermarket industry.
“We have a body of work to do there with the AAAA and the industry, through the technical working group, which is ran by the Government Relations team, and we are gearing up to provide AEB testing. That will be important for research work, but more importantly for vehicle modifications such as bullbar and suspension development,” Luke explains.
The equipment required for that testing was on a plane to Australia as AAAM’s March edition closed for press.
“The AAAA’s goal is to make everything commercially viable while at the same time keeping everyone safe,” Luke says.
“ADRs are written to accommodate companies that are designing, building and selling tens of thousands of vehicles. That’s very different to catering to companies that are producing solutions for niche Australian market requirements by comparison.
“We will be researching what is a reasonable and economically viable test for an aftermarket company to be required to do to make sure that the ADAS does still work adequately, but without adding unnecessary knock-on costs to the consumer while making sure that their vehicles are still fit for purpose.
“For example, compliant frontal protection system developers are not required to complete a full suite of ADR crash tests on every product they develops for airbag validation. There is a test that has been developed that is much more appropriate, that still achieves the end result in terms of compliance and safety, but that doesn’t have the associated costs of a full crash test.”
The AIC – which will be exhibiting at AAAExpo Stand P14 – also has equipment supplied by Hella and Bosch available for ADAS calibration which product development companies and repairers can access.
The AIC, AAAA and Thatcham Research are just some of the automotive organisations around the world that recognise the investment needed for ADAS repair and modification training and equipment is not insignificant. But there is consensus that it is critical for the sustainable future of both bodyshops and accessory and modification businesses.
There’s much at stake for the automotive sector as it seeks to deal with rapid advances in vehicle technology. The onus is on governments, repairers, modifiers and accessory developers to assure motorists that their vehicle is fully safe to drive.
ADAS is here to stay, and we must all ensure our methods of managing identification and repair and modification are fit for purpose. Only then will consumers have complete confidence in the technology that will shape their driving experiences for the next 125 years.

For Thatcham Research’s full Insurance Industry Requirements (IIR) visit www.thatcham.org/insurance-industry-requirements/

Article produced in collaboration with the Automotive Innovation Centre (autoic.com.au) and Thatcham Research (thatcham.org).