Whether we like it or not, we all have to deal with it over time: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Driving assistance systems are already indispensable in modern cars, and all vehicles newly developed from 2022 onwards must have basic systems in the EU. But what if your car is damaged? Do all sensors work just as well after recovery?
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The car can perform its driving assistance tasks thanks to many electronic aids. The next step, which many cars have already taken, is that the car can also steer automatically and, for example, can change lanes.
Tasks that arrange Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for the driver
- Hold on to speed and keep distance from the vehicle in front
- Emergency stop if necessary
- Keep the car in the lane
- Help with reversing and parking
How do we keep all those electronic assistance systems in good condition? Because cars are full of sensors, different types of cameras, radar and lidar, a technology that determines distance by means of laser pulses, and they must continue to function properly. But it is sensitive material.
For example, with the cameras that are behind the windshield - with some cars there are already three - you must ensure that the windshield is clean. And you also don't have to stick stickers, such as parking vignettes, near the cameras. But if you have a star in your windscreen once and the window needs to be replaced, then the cameras behind the window also have to be recalibrated.
"The number of cars equipped with these systems is growing rapidly," says Hans Verstraeten. He is the program manager of Carglass, the largest automotive glass company in the Netherlands. Carglass has equipment at all its locations to adjust the cameras behind the window.
"There are cars that have eighteen cameras and sensors in the windshield. And for every hundred cars that come to us for a new windshield, we have to calibrate for twelve cars," says Verstraeten. "And that number is increasing rapidly."
The cameras of the EyeSight system from Subaru (photo: Subaru)
Diploma for the car
The adjustment of those cameras can usually be done in the workplace, with a static setup. But in 10 percent of the cases a dynamic calibration must be performed. "That means that you have to get on the road by car", Verstraete explains.
"And not only that, but you have to find out a specific traffic situation and drive it a number of times to be able to do the calibration. That could mean that you have to drive a provincial road or even a highway at 70 kilometers per hour. We understand that something like that provokes irritation among other road users. We have developed a special sign with 'ADAS Test drive' for it. We then hang it in front of the rear window of the car to explain what traffic is going on. "
Cars that Carglass has calibrated also receive a certificate, a nicely designed 'diploma' that explains what the glass company has done to the car.
The adaptive cruise control depends on many sensors (photo: Mitsubishi)
Radar can be disrupted after damage
It is not only the cameras behind the windshield that are sensitive. Behind the bumpers can be both front and rear radars or lidars. The moment you tap another car with your bumper, or shoot a pole, such a radar can be disrupted. Without your knowledge, your support systems no longer function as they should, with all the associated risks.
Ad van Diepenbeek is damage director at dealer holding Van Mossel. This company has damage companies throughout the Netherlands, but the Zwolle site is specifically aimed at repairing damage to high-tech cars. So here come cars that are chock full of electronics.
"For every car we repair here, we calibrate the ADAS systems that are behind the windshield. That is desperately needed, even in the case of minor damage, because the wheel position alone influences the functioning of those systems. So we also ensure that the car is first aligned, before we calibrate the cameras and radars. "
Almost no longer visible, the sensors on modern cars (photo: Lexus)
Calibration of the driver assistance systems is not part of APK
Van Mossel has developed a mobile installation for this, which is mounted on a trailer. "This allows us to drive to our various locations, so that we do not have to purchase that equipment separately for each location." Here too, it applies that most calibrations can take place in the workplace, but that some have to be carried out on the road.
This calibration of the driver assistance systems is therefore done after repairing damage or replacing a windscreen. But it is not included in the maintenance of most car makes. And certainly not in the MOT.
So if you want to be sure that the ADAS systems in your car do what they have to do, then ask your dealer or your garage explicitly to perform a calibration of all systems. Then you know for sure that you are on the road safely.
The full story was in AutoWeek 31.