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Advance driver assistance systems ADAS

Your Advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) calibration specialists - A C MECHANICAL REPAIRS LTD 

Automotive technology can achieve extraordinary things. As long ago as the 1950s, anti-lock braking systems were pioneered, while the parking sensors with which most modern cars are fitted were invented in the 1980s.

Since then, we have seen extraordinary technological advances create a whole new generation of safety and convenience features known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Their functions are so varied and their application so sophisticated that they have radically changed the driving experience.  ADAS is designed with twin objectives. One is to make the life of the driver more comfortable and convenient, while the other is to make extensive improvements in driver and pedestrian safety.

ADAS for Convenience

Functions which are largely focused on convenience and making the driver’s job easier include features that have developed from those parking sensors. Instead of just rear sensors, many modern vehicles have them at the front and all around the car. They make it much easier to manoeuvre into a parking space because they check distances to objects such as kerbs, posts and other cars throughout the parking sequence. Some cars are also fitted with cameras at front and rear or even one with a 360-degree view.  Parallel parking need no longer be a challenge but simply a routine exercise.

ADAS in some cars goes a step further with Park Assist, a function that enables your car literally to park itself.  The driver still needs to operate the accelerator, clutch, brake and gears but the steering is done automatically.  The result: perfect parking.

The other learner driver’s nightmare, the hill start, is no longer a cause for anxiety because ADAS can take control to such an extent that you no longer have to find the biting point of the clutch.  Hill-Start Assist knows you are stationary on a hill and will maintain brake power after you release the handbrake, giving you time to engage the accelerator, thus avoiding stalling, rolling backwards or leaping forwards.

ADAS for Safety

Convenience measures are very useful but it is in its safety improvements that ADAS is particularly valuable.  The more sophisticated the ADAS properties of your car, the more effective they will be at preventing collisions and accidents by providing safeguards and in extreme circumstances assuming control of the vehicle.  Human error is one of the most common causes of accidents, which can lead to serious injury and death.  ADAS is designed if not to eliminate then to substantially reduce the effect of human error. 

ADAS works through a combination of sensors, cameras, interfaces and a powerful onboard computer which processes the data supplied by the sensors and cameras and makes decisions about how the car should respond.  Unlike the original rear parking sensors which would engage only when you were reversing into a space, the ADAS sensors are working all the time, monitoring the environment, the road conditions and the status of the car itself.  It is the effectiveness of ADAS which is bringing forward the likelihood of that we will see fully autonomous vehicles on a mass scale.

Passive ADAS

Rather than active ADAS, which can take control of the car, passive ADAS gathers the same information but merely gives the driver advice on what action to take.  Alerts include sounds and flashing lights. Sometimes there may be physical warnings, such as a steering wheel which vibrates to tell the driver they are moving into an occupied lane. These are some of the most common Passive ADAS functions:

  • Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) prevents skidding or veering when you brake in an emergency;
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps the driver avoid under- or over-steering;
  • Traction Control System (TCS) combines ABS and ESC to maintain stable traction on bends and in turns;
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) warns the driver if they are not keeping in their lane;
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) recommends immediate braking to avoid a collision ahead;
  • Blind Spot Detection warns if a vehicle is detected close by but hidden from the driver’s view.

Although these are the most significant examples of passive ADAS, there are many others. Traffic Sign Recognition is very helpful if you are driving in unfamiliar territory or there is a high concentration of road signs warning you of difficult conditions or speed limit reductions. The technology can alert you to these via your dashboard. Cross Traffic Alert can detect traffic approaching from virtually any angle, making it easier to pull out of spaces into busy traffic. The more advanced versions can automatically apply the brakes. Driver Monitoring Systems are an excellent innovation which can respond to signs of driver fatigue or inattention by issuing audible alerts and even give specific warnings about potential collisions.

Active ADAS

This is the technology that will one day make autonomous vehicles a reality. Here are some of the key features of Active ADAS:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking. As the name suggests, this enables the car’s computer to take control and apply emergency braking when it detects the likelihood of hitting a pedestrian, an animal or any kind of obstacle.
  • Emergency Steering. As an alternative to emergency braking this allows the computer to steer around an obstruction.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control. Instead of cruise control which takes over when you reach a certain speed, this reads the road and adjusts your speed to match that of others around you.
  • Lane Keeping and Lane Centring. Particularly useful on long stretches of motorway, this ensures your car stays well within its lane and centred.
  • Traffic Jam Assist. This uses a combination of the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping technologies to provide semi-automatic control of the car in congestion or where the flow of traffic is slow and uneven.

ADAS Recalibration

The sensor technology used by ADAS is highly sensitive and each sensor is positioned for optimum performance.  As a consequence, anything which disturbs the settings can compromise their performance.  Once a driver comes to rely on these automated aids, this can have dangerous consequences.

As a rule of thumb, whenever any work is carried out on a car fitted with ADAS the sensors must be checked and if necessary recalibrated. If, for example, any bodywork repairs are made or windscreens replaced, all the sensors in those parts of the vehicle need to be inspected and corrected.

It’s common for mechanics to carry out wheel realignment when they replace a tyre or if they are making corrections after a wheel has collided with a pothole or kerb stone.  The realignment procedure can throw out the wheel sensors rendering the lane keeping and centring functions ineffective.  It can also have a knock-on effect on any of the automatic steering functions.

Having ADAS fitted can be of enormous benefit for the driver’s convenience and for everyone’s safety but if the sensors and cameras which gather all the necessary data are not maintained in the correct configuration, ADAS can actually be more dangerous than having none at all. If a sensor is not working, the driver has no way of knowing this. If they are relying on the car’s computer to react to dangerous situations on their behalf, the first time they’ll be aware of a malfunction is when an accident occurs.  Every component of an ADAS system must be checked thoroughly and regularly.

The Future of ADAS

Where then is ADAS heading next? If the onboard computer is the central nervous system of the vehicle then its nerve receptors are the devices that supply the information necessary for ADAS to work. At the moment, as we’ve discussed, these are almost entirely sensors, with cameras being used as visual assistance to the driver. However, Tesla, one of the undisputed automotive pioneers recently announced its intention to move away from the radar technology which powers today’s sensors and concentrate on camera-based vision.

Until now cameras and radar sensors have performed complementary roles. Most manufacturers have also used the light-detection technology LiDAR, which has never been a feature of Tesla’s design. If Tesla’s view of the future is correct then all forms of radar in vehicles will become obsolete as computer vision and neural processing improve.

Cameras certainly have many advantages, such as the ability to detect colour and interpret text. They also have a much higher data throughput capacity. Tesla believes the areas where radar may perform better, as in poor weather conditions, are minor concerns heavily outweighed by the potential of camera-fed neural processing.

ADAS as we know it now may become a very different creature in the next few years. Tesla’s radical rethink of its design and manufacturing priorities could be the start of another revolution as all manufacturers compete to innovate and deliver high performance and can’t be left behind.

If you need assistance with your ADAS please contact A C MECHANICAL REPAIRS LTD, Reading on 0118 95 90500 today!

 

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