Advanced-Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) — if you haven’t heard of this term yet, you will!
ADAS is an industry-invented category that includes all those things that help keep vehicles safe on the nation’s highways. Blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking are just a few features that fit into this category.
While the category may be new, the features it represents are not. Forward collision warning systems were appearing as early as 2001 as options in high-end models. By 2008, which is considered to be the older end of the “aftermarket sweet spot,” ADAS-related features were found on some mainstream as well as luxury models from 18 manufacturers.
You may be asking yourself, “So what? What does ADAS mean to me?” And that’s a very good question. Whether you’re an early adopter who is ready to jump into the ADAS repair world or whether you’re more passive and taking a wait-and-see posture, you’re going to be affected.
First, here’s a little more detail about ADAS and how it all works. Depending on the feature set available on a specific vehicle, an elaborate ecosystem of cameras, radars, laser assisted radar (LIDAR) and ultrasonic sensors (similar to SONAR) feeds information into on-board computers. These powerful computers interpret all that information and — using some artificial intelligence wizardry — enable features that fit into the ADAS category.
The array of sensors, cameras and radar/LIDAR componentry that supports each feature can vary. Most of the time, for example, adaptive cruise control will be supported by a forward-facing camera as well as a radar or LIDAR system, and information from legacy inputs, such as vehicle speed. The information from these inputs is fed into an on-board computer that uses them to deliver the driver’s desired speed, while watching for vehicles in front that might require a speed adjustment (up to and including an emergency braking countermeasure).
Many vehicles rely on both the radar and camera to ensure safe operation. In discussions with one vehicle manufacturer, they explained that their forward-looking radar was very capable of identifying an object in front of the vehicle, but it was not so good at identifying what the object was. They explained, “It could be a manhole cover, or it could be a small child.” So in their model, the radar detected an object, then the forward-looking camera was responsible for validating the object was there, as well as identifying what the object actually was (and if it is safe to drive over it).