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The vehicle of the future: Part 2

Monday, July 1, 2019 - 07:00
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This article was co-authored by Lisa Lofton.

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Editor’s Note: This is the second part in a two-part series on autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the collision repair industry. See Part One in the June 2019 issue to learn more about the training technicians must seek to align themselves with automakers as vehicle technology continues to develop.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are – to a great degree – what allows autonomous vehicles (AVs) to exist. It “knows” what is going on around it as best as it can. When designed with a safe Human-Machine Interface, these systems should increase vehicle safety and overall road safety.

Although it may seem like AVs are a long way off, they are already here but in just a different way from how people typically think of them. Fully autonomous vehicles, a.k.a. driverless vehicles or self-driving cars, are yet to come, but modern vehicles already average more than 100 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and ADAS systems further augment them.

Many advanced safety systems – such as blind spot detection, lane departure warnings and parking assistance – now often come as standard equipment on vehicles.

There are many legal questions concerning AVs, especially ones that will be fully autonomous (referred to as Level 5) and what it means to other vehicles that aren’t able to be seen electronically. With vehicle technology continuously changing, these questions and concerns that go with them are legitimate – particularly with advanced vehicle safety systems.

What’s the deal with ADAS?

There has been much discussion tied to ADAS because of the numerous sensors currently on vehicles and increasing every year. What were simple beeping systems morphed into a vehicle being able to detect if it was going to back into another car in a parking lot.

These sensors are levels of AV technology. When they are damaged, they are a critical part of the repair process. Not only must they be repaired or replaced, but they must also be recalibrated and reset.

Some of the ADAS technologies aren’t new – adaptive cruise control was on the front of Mercedes in 2002 and on Chrysler in 2004. Many advanced safety systems – such as blind spot detection, lane departure warnings and parking assistance now often come as standard equipment on vehicles, even base models. (The Ford Focus, often considered an entry-level vehicle in the Ford line, now has parking assistance.)

Why most Americans are ‘afraid’ of completely driverless vehicles

Advancements in technology and infrastructure continue to bring us closer to developing fully self-driving vehicles, but widespread acceptance remains an issue. The majority of U.S. drivers (71 percent) indicated they “would be afraid” to ride in completely autonomous vehicles (AVs), the American Automobile Association (AAA) found in its March 2019 Automated Vehicle Survey – Phase IV, its fourth annual survey conducted to study consumer attitudes toward fully driverless autonomous vehicles (AVs).

These fear levels are similar to those found in the April 2018 survey, which was conducted following high-profile incidents involving fatalities. Despite these non-accepting consumer attitudes, more than half (55 percent) of U.S. drivers think that by 2029 most cars will be able to drive themselves.

The naysayers who are confident that humans will still be in the driver seat in 10 years say it’s because they believe people won’t trust completely self-driving vehicles (53 percent) and also will not want to give up driving themselves (52 percent). Thirty-four percent of people surveyed think that technology for fully driverless AVs will not be ready, and 33 percent of this group say they don’t think road conditions will be good enough.

For a link to the March 2019 report, and the methodology used for the survey, go to https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/advanced-driver-assistance-systems.

Despite that, the collision repair industry is just beginning to truly grasp everything involved with working on these systems. Although the topic of pre-repair and post-repair scans seems to be constantly discussed, it is worth reiterating because it is so important. A vehicle scan must be done prior to any repairs to get the whole picture of diagnostic codes – and the results will depend on the complexity of the network.

A post-repair scan is also important to make sure that not only pre-repair issues were addressed but to see whether any other codes were created during the repair process. Essentially, the post-repair check is checking to see if existing codes have cleared and whether additional codes were created during the repair process.

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