ADAS – Opportunity or threat?

Neil Pattemore considers the potential effect ADAS might have on businesses in the aftermarket

By Neil Pattermore |

Published:  23 October, 2019

Last month I wrote about the way that the electronic connections between equipment or via the internet can impact your workshop activities and how the control and function of these communications may now impact the OBD connector, ‘He who controls the connection, controls the function and ultimately the business’.
However, it is not just the connection to the vehicle that is under threat, but what you are able to connect to and ultimately, diagnose, repair and re-configure so that it functions correctly via a connection to the vehicle. As vehicles move towards being autonomous, the key stepping stones are the advanced driver assistance systems or ADAS as they are more commonly known.

Key issue
These systems are becoming increasingly important to the way that vehicles are controlled and this opens a variety of new challenges to the independent repair sector in their ability to work on them. In theory, they are no different to other in-vehicle electronically controlled systems in that they use sensors, control functions and actuators to ensure that the in-vehicle system works correctly, but it is the outcome of these combined aspects which is creating the key issue for independent workshops of whether you be allowed to work on them.
ADAS systems are designed to ‘assist’ the driver, but increasingly, have direct control over the way that a vehicle reacts to situations and steers or brakes accordingly. The European Commission recently announced that more ADAS functions will become mandatory from 2022 for all new type approved vehicles.
These will include: Advanced emergency braking (cars); Alcohol interlock installation facilitation (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Drowsiness and attention detection (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Distraction recognition/prevention (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Event (accident) data recorder (cars and vans); Emergency stop signal (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Full-width frontal occupant protection crash test – improved seatbelts (cars and vans); Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists – safety glass in case of crash (cars and vans); Itelligent speed assistance (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Lane keeping assist (cars, vans); Pole side impact occupant protection (cars, vans); Reversing camera or detection system (cars, vans, trucks, buses); Tyre pressure monitoring system (vans, trucks, buses); Vulnerable road user detection and warning on front and side of vehicle (trucks and buses); Vulnerable road user improved direct vision from driver’s position (trucks and buses).
As you can see, quite an impressive list, but equally, quite a threat if you could not repair or re-calibrate this plethora of new systems.

Direct product liability
The vehicle manufacturers are claiming that as they have a direct product liability throughout the life of the vehicle and that these systems have a direct impact on vehicle control and safety, that only their authorised repairers (i.e. main dealers) should be allowed to work on these systems to ensure that they are repaired correctly and that the vehicle manufacturer knows who did the work, should there ever be a malfunction, so a whole new business model for independent workshop is under threat.
Furthermore, the vehicle manufacturers are also claiming that only their original parts can be used, so they are now starting to require a code for these the parts to be ‘activated’ and configured into the corresponding ADAS system. This code is only being made available to their main dealers. Some vehicle manufacturers have gone a stage further and re-classified these replacement ADAS components as ‘security’ items which further restricts access for independent operators.
In another twist to this ‘security’ classification, the current discussions at the UNECE in Geneva (to which the UK is a signatory), the vehicle type approval group may bring these replacement parts under the vehicle manufacturer’s ‘cybersecurity management system’ which will allow vehicle manufacturers to implement their own cybersecurity classification and access conditions with a wide range of requirements that may include these ‘security’ related replacement parts. They could claim that this is not a problem, as there would be no discrimination with what is fitted by their authorised repairers, so they would conform with European repair and maintenance legislation for the ‘non-discrimination’ requirement. However, this trend is likely to develop further as autonomous vehicle systems increase to, ultimately the fully autonomous vehicle.
Although the ‘security’ classification is directly a threat, there could also be a requirement that non-OEM (i.e. aftermarket) replacement parts may need to be type approved, which would not be such a problem if there were test methods for the type approval process, but in most cases, there aren’t, so testing becomes very difficult and expensive – again restricting the choice of parts which may be available in the future.

Competence and traceability
What can be done then? Actually, quite a lot, but it won’t happen unless someone actually does something to challenge these restrictions. That’s the role of the various aftermarket associations, both here in the UK and for their European partner associations.
Fundamentally it is likely to become an issue of legislative compliance and a combination of demonstrating both competence and traceability for independent workshops. This could work in a framework where workshops are verified and registered via a ‘conformity assessment body’ who then provides a certificate and pin for use when accessing the relevant parts or re-configuration codes via a vehicle manufacturer’s website or a neutral trust centre, or using these ‘credentials’ when re-calibrating an ADAS camera. The workshop would only be verified if the relevant competency could be demonstrated and the certificate system provides traceability in the event of a subsequent system malfunction.
Additionally, the vehicle manufacturer could conduct an ‘over the air’ verification of the vehicle’s ADAS status to check that it is repaired or re-calibrated correctly.
Ultimately, this may become a form of ‘workshop licensing’, but not only would this allow workshops to have the ability to develop new business models for the diagnosis, repair and re-calibration of these ADAS systems, but it would also provide a welcome assurance to their customers that the work has been done correctly and avoid the vehicle manufacturers having a monopolistic control of the work on these systems and ultimately, the future business of the independent sector.
So now, more than ever, is the time to join forces via the aftermarket associations and support their fight for your future.

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