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Are you radar ready?

Monday, July 1, 2019 - 07:00
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Are you “radar ready?” Don’t want to mess with the new complicated radars and smart cameras on today’s cars and trucks? If you answered “no” to either question, are you planning on doing any 4-wheel alignments on newer vehicles? How about radiator replacements? You might want to check for the presence of an ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) system prior to your next repair procedure. Both scenarios have the potential to create the need for an ADAS calibration. A long-range radar sensor offset of just 0.040” (visualize a spark plug gap) can make a difference of 40 feet (left or right) down the road for your customer’s adaptive cruise control. For the sake of argument let’s say you do get a radar sensor off calibration enough to adversely affect the system. This scenario could leave the potential for 3 different outcomes:

  1. PREFERRED OUTCOME — The onboard diagnostics within the adaptive cruise control sees the radar targeting information as erroneous, sets a descriptive DTC and promptly disables the system until repaired/calibrated.     
  1. UNDESIRABLE OUTCOME — By itself, the vehicle slams on its brakes to avoid a perceived head on collision when the inaccurately calibrated radar sensor for the adaptive cruise control misinterprets an oncoming vehicle safely in its own lane as a vehicle directly in front it.
  2. TRAGIC OUTCOME — Your customer’s vehicle plows into the car in front of it while your customer is not paying attention or placing too much trust in his/her radar cruise as the inaccurately calibrated radar sensor “stares” off into an open field instead of at the vehicle directly in front of it.

Outcome No. 1 will take some education and equipment to correct but sounds pretty good compared to Nos. 2 and 3 where property damage, injuries or even deaths may result.

Your customer’s vehicle may say “Radar Ready” but are you Radar Ready? Today’s ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) equipped vehicles have tons of new technology for techs to learn to diagnose, repair and educate customers on!

The business side of ADAS

If you think you’ll dodge the bullet on this new technology (i.e. your shop doesn’t do hybrids, diesels, etc.) you might want to rethink that. As we move at lightening speeds to integrate this technology into the average car or truck (ADAS is not just for luxury cars anymore) it is likely to become the next airbag or ABS system – meaning most every vehicle will have it. The popular prediction from tech-savvy industry leaders is that privately-owned vehicles will be replaced by completely autonomous ride share vehicles that pick you up and take you where you want to go. In some vehicular congested urban locales this seems practical at lower speeds in controlled environments if infrastructure is improved.

Need a new RADAR? Purchase a tail light assembly and Ford includes one for free!  This F-150 houses the rear RADAR sensors for BLIS (Blindspot Information System) and Cross Traffic Alert in the tail light assembly. The front sensors are behind the front bumper facia This Toyota’s radar used for adaptive cruise is mounted directly behind the Toyota logo in the center of the grill.

The full autonomous ride share approach to transportation will also be a huge help to those who aren’t close to mass transit and are unable to drive a vehicle on their own for a variety of reasons including cost, health, age and disabilities. However, in rural areas with higher speeds, careless drivers (just do a Google search on “ADAS Abuses” to see what I mean) where many conventional freedom loving Americans live, the autonomous ride share micro buggy seems quite a way off in my opinion. Regardless of the timing and details of ADAS evolution, there are plenty of ADAS-equipped vehicles roaming the roads right now in need of service. In order to gain a level of understanding enough to diagnose and repair ADAS let’s peel back two of the layers of technologies (Radar and Camera) that go into these complicated vehicles. A third technology layer (LiDAR) which constantly scans with lasers (at a frequency not visible to the human eye) instead of a camera in order to view the vehicle’s surroundings. LiDAR is relatively new to ADAS so it’s unlikely you’ll encounter LiDAR equipped models in your service bay anytime soon.

(Image courtesy of Mitchell 1) Do you have to calibrate with targets or a scan tool? Both or neither? Mitchell 1 has added a brand new quick link choice once you select a new vehicle to research. Simply click “ADAS” from the main menu to get the screen shown above for this 2017 Cadillac CT6.
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