With more Advanced Driver Assistance Systems being installed on cars, Alistair Carlton, technical manager at National Windscreens, says insurers shouldn't underestimate the demand for ADAS calibration.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems are being installed in new vehicles at an ever-increasing pace but they are not ‘fit and forget’ technology. There is an essential maintenance requirement, such as after an accident or when a windscreen is replaced, needed to ensure the assistance systems continue to work correctly.
The European New Car Assessment Programme has included automatic emergency braking as part of its tests since 2014 and is looking at making some ADAS systems mandatory in order to achieve a five-star assessment rating. Such systems range from blind spot elimination to lane keep assist through to adaptive cruise control.
The Euro NCAP standard is undoubtedly a key factor driving the introduction of ADAS, with 40% of all vehicles on UK roads predicted to have at least two types of ADAS fitted by 2020.
ADAS technology is becoming part of mainstream fleets. It is not just about premium marques. It is pretty much available already as an option on most car manufacturers’ models and will soon be fitted as standard to many. Therefore, as the market grows, so will the necessity to calibrate vehicles that require windscreen replacement or have been involved in an accident.
Accordingly, the prediction that 40% of vehicles will feature ADAS by 2020 could be viewed as conservative. Our research among insurers and fleet managers over the past 12 months confirms that it is still not widely realised that 75% of vehicle manufacturers require calibration in workshop conditions and this proportion of manufacturers is increasing. There are major vehicle manufacturers now looking to move towards use of workshop calibration when they had previously been specifying dynamic calibration for their vehicles.
In the face of this growing demand, it should not be necessary for any driver to make two visits to a workshop; one for replacement and one for calibration. This is costly and inconvenient for the policyholder. There is also the concern that if the vehicle continues to be used on the road between the replacement and calibration appointments, then the ADAS safety systems may not be working as intended at that time. The situation is the same throughout Europe.
With ADAS being regarded as the first step towards truly autonomous cars, it is perhaps not surprising that certain assumptions being made about the capabilities of ADAS technology are unrealistic. With all of the discussion around the development of fully autonomous cars, it should be remembered that most knowledgeable industry predictions are for such technology on UK roads to be at around 20 years away.
Similarly, the theory that automated ADAS calibration on vehicles will do away with the need for workshop calibration certainly does not match with what is being seen in the market.
Such technology is several years away from happening, even if it ever happens. Calibration is a physical comparison between what the system is actually doing compared to what it should be doing. Automated systems can only compare what they see to what they expect to see, it is not a true calibration and the technology is currently still in the very early stages of development. There is no doubt that the demand for workshop-based ADAS camera calibration is here to stay and is only set to increase.
Identifying the safety systems fitted to a vehicle is regarded as a key issue for insurers. There is a demand for a central database that insurers can access in order to identify the exact safety systems fitted to each individual vehicle. However this comes about, whether it is through government action or cooperative agreement between manufacturers, it is not something that is likely to be available for quite some time.
Read the first article in this spotlight on ADAS - Is everyone ready for ADAS?
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