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Thinking Ahead: The ADAS Revolution

The rising tide of sophisticated driver assistance technology is already imparting remarkable changes on the car as we know it
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 06:00
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The transition from auto-motivity to auto-mobility is a journey whose significance we are only beginning to truly appreciate. After more than a century of life colored by the old motoring paintbrush, new frontiers of automated transportation are opening up, giving us – for the first time – a eal chance to contemplate a cleaner, safer, more cost-effective future.

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And to glance at the auto industry of 2019 is to see snippets of the radical re-thinking that’s going on behind closed doors to make it happen. The driverless future – while nearer than ever before – unquestionably represents a change not of degree, but of kind, demanding a long process of cutting-edge R&D from manufacturers more comfortable with gentle evolution. 

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Yet the magnitude of the task excuses no players, as many OEMs discovered with the arrival of upstart outsiders like Tesla on the automotive scene. Unconstrained by the old modes of creeping incrementalism, their approach to developing driverless systems in particular has acted like a kind of giant centrifuge for the rest of the automotive industry, compelling an enormous groundswell of interest and expectation around current semi-driverless technology. 

The result is that in a relatively compressed period of time, we have seen the almost universal adoption of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) as a kind of new standard in the automotive mainstream. Far from being the purview of expensive luxury cars, now even the most ordinary of vehicles feature technology that is designed to add a layer of supervisory protection to the driver’s decision-making processes – and in some cases, intervene and override them when their instinct fails. 

Consider that by 2022, automakers have committed to fitting almost every new vehicle in the US market with Autonomous Emergency Braking technology, or AEB – a proposal which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates will prevent more than 28,000 accidents and over 12,000 injuries by 2025. 

Introduced, unsurprisingly, by the safety kings at Volvo back in 2009, AEB represented an extension of the Radar Cruise Control concept which had been around in the market since the late-1990s. Using a front-mounted LIDAR (light-detection and ranging) sensor, the Volvo City Safety system monitored the area 33 feet ahead of the car, at speeds between approximately 2 and 19 mph, noting other vehicles that might present the threat of collision. At under approximately 9 mph, Volvo claimed the system would be all but guaranteed to avoid an accident, while above that, damage and injuries were significantly reduced.

City Safety was a remarkable piece of technology, not simply because of what it could do, but also because of what it meant for the relationship between car and driver. For the first time, here was a system that would pro-actively “intervene” to prevent an accident – which was interpreted by some as a degree of control being removed from the driver. Yet as Volvo’s engineers explained, 80% of front-to-rear accidents are caused by driver inattention – and in half of those events, drivers didn’t take anyaction to avoid the accident.

Since Volvo’s initial foray into AEB, the potential and scope of this kind of technology has broadened dramatically, with AEB systems now capable of avoiding accidents at higher relative speeds, and with more than just other vehicles. For instance, Volvo’s more recent iterations of City Safety now include pedestrian and cyclist detection, both of which have spread throughout Volvo and other manufacturers’ model ranges. 

Even still, it’s worth remembering that AEB is merely the tip of an enormous ADAS iceberg, comprising all manner of technologies and advancements designed – ostensibly – to further minimise the “mistake quotient” that is such a fundamental component of many accident statistics.

Just one glance at a bird’s eye map of the modern vehicle’s systems reveals a sort of force-field of protective devices: AEB, Radar Cruise, Lane Detection, Traffic Sign Recognition at the front, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Surround View cameras looking out on the sides, and Rear Collision Warning sensors minding the rear. It’s an astonishing spectacle that speaks volumes about the change in customer expectations around this technology andthe extraordinary level of technological complexity it brings to the modern vehicle.

Put simply, never before has so much been offered to so many, for so little. The choice of technology in the market, and its relative affordability, is unquestionably a boon for drivers and buyers – and means we can all look forward to a safer, more connected and more efficient automotive tomorrow.

For technicians, however, this revolution presents a major challenge – how to stay up to

date with technology, when it seems to change so much faster than the traditional training methods we always relied on for currency. The reality is that the days of being trained once, and trained for life, are now finished – that party is over. To thrive in today’s aftermarket, automotive technicians instead need ways to accumulate knowledge about the latest technology quickly, conveniently and at a low cost.

They need training that doesn’t burden their time; that doesn’t require long hours of travel to inconvenient locations; and that doesn’t eat into their weekends or evenings. Most of all, they need training which embraces the latest learning tools, to make new concepts as clear as crystal; not unnecessarily complex, but easy to understand and enjoyable to learn.

That’s where Motor Age Training CONNECT comes in – a video-based, online training service available anytime on any Internet-enabled device. With more than 400 videos covering everything from fundamentals to the most advanced systems like ADAS, hybrid drive and the latest diagnostic methods, Motor Age Training CONNECT is 21stcentury training for a cutting-edge industry.

The fact is the pace and tempo of automotive development is set on one course: onwards and upwards - so staying ahead of this trend is a must for every technician. If you’re ready for a new way to train, jump onto and find out just how great training for today, and tomorrow’s, technology can be.

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