Tire dealers ready for assisted driving
Besides being inevitable, correct procedures on Adas devices are a must, calibrating the systems after tuning setups or replacing tires
Progress is relentless and autonomous driving is now a reality. It seems like yesterday when movies portrayed distant futures dominated by cars able to think independently and automated transport systems.... Yet, it is now a current issue, one which must be dealt with every time someone enters into a workshop.
If autonomous driving must still be generally viewed as an experiment (already possible across the ocean but still unregulated in Europe), computer aided driving has already been around for years now, progressively developed following new, advanced and sometimes invasive on-board computers able to take over and correct one’s driving errors or misjudgements. We are talking about Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (Adas), now found on virtually any vehicle regardless of class or segment. Some of these devices include, for example, Adaptive Cruise Controls, Lane Departure Warnings and Emergency Brake Assist which activate to avoid or reduce the entity of a collision, all devices that represent the most widespread and advanced automatic safety systems, managed by ground-breaking monitoring devices with radars and cameras first and foremost.
Nowadays Adas systems are no longer the prerogative of luxury cars, they can just as easily be found on family and city cars, ready to deal with unexpected dangers and driving errors. Every specialist knows that this means working on radars, cameras, lasers and sensors which must be calibrated each time the original setting is compromised by maintenance and repair work, especially when the vehicle’s set up is involved (for example suspension replacement or a rear axle alignment), or after a seasonal tire replacement, when carried out with rims of different diameters, if provided by the manufacturer.
Put down the hammer
Gone are the days when a couple of well placed blows with a hammer would have sufficed to realign a wheel, the IT age demands a professional evolution that must keep pace with technology, embracing the “workshop 4.0” concept. No room for old school nostalgia as modern pros will inevitably be forced to update their know-how, the dear old 2-kg hammer is replaced by calibres and testers while electronic diagnostic tools replace the fine hearing of your trusted auto mechanic. An economic and training commitment that will prove worthwhile in the short term, rising the quality standards of a workshop with the consequent expansion of the customer base, naturally inclined towards up-to-date and competent professionals able to fully meet the specific needs of each vehicle.
In addition to those previously mentioned, the acronym Adas encompasses systems aimed at supporting active mobility, such as the Traffic Assistant, which keeps the safety distance from the vehicle ahead (for example in the case of queues and road construction sites), keeping the vehicle in its lane, stopping if necessary and automatically restarting within a defined time; then we have Traffic Sign Recognition, able to show the road signs encountered on a display, Adaptive Lighting System with advanced headlights that dynamically adjust both the intensity and the direction of the light beam according to road conditions; technologies that have very little or nothing in common with old-fashioned incandescent headlights.
What do we need then to keep up with the times? Let us take as an example a widely used car, could be a SUV or a new mid-sized saloon: at the front there is a radar (two in some cases) positioned in the bumper or the grille, and a Lidar (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) located on the windshield, while at the rear we find two additional radars (generally at both ends of the rear bumper) used to monitor the distance with the vehicle that follows us or when approaching an obstacle while reversing; still on the windshield we find a front camera (mono-camera or stereo-camera) for lane keeping, road signs reading and “smart” headlight management. Furthermore, on the bumper or near the tailgate we find a rear camera, which can be integrated with ultrasound perimeter sensors, not to mention some of the most complete systems normally expected on more sophisticated flagships. We should also mention that the future has a lot in store even for tires, able to monitor their own inflation pressure, measure the tread wear, and in the near future even the amount of grip at any time, providing real time data to adjust the vehicle’s behaviour in case a critical situation should suddenly arise.
All Adas devices make up that drive assist technology so needed in preventing accidents that, according to a European legislation currently under discussion, will become mandatory in the next few years, and no one should be caught unprepared.
From diagnostics to calibration, working on the most advanced assistance systems is now within reach of all kinds of workshops, auto repairer, coachbuilders and tire dealers, through multi-brand solutions offered by one of the leading players in the sector.
HellaGutmann, a division dedicated to garage and diagnostic equipment for the German group HELLA - one of the top manufacturers of OEM automation system - is able to offer state-of-the-art calibration equipment for Adas systems, as well as training courses, guaranteed by itinerant teaching sessions as well as courses held at the Hella Academy Headquarters, and assistance, through the technical support of a call centre dedicated to customers. Hella’s diagnostic and calibration instruments are able to reset every level of equipment following all the parameters provided for the correct functioning of each Adas electronic system leaving the workshop.
And it is precisely here that Hella’s CSC-Tool (Camera & Sensor Calibration) comes into the picture, combined with a diagnostic tool of the mega macs range, able to perfectly calibrate, with extreme precision, all those systems based on cameras and radar, through static calibration systems, using brand-specific ACC reference panels, and dynamic calibration, shifting in specific areas with pre-established movements.
Other systems can be integrated, such as a 360° camera calibration kit for reverse cameras and parking assistance systems, additionally the CSC-Tool is designed to align itself with the vehicle's drive axle, through specific supports equipped with high precision laser spots to be positioned on the rear wheels. At this point, following the instructions found on the display of the diagnostic tool, the step-by-step procedure will allow, in just a few minutes (about 20 with just one operator) the complete calibration of these advanced drive assist systems.
Where required by the manufacturer, calibration is compulsory: for example when a windshield equipped with a camera needs replacing, when fitting a component that contains one or more sensors, such as exterior rear-view mirrors, or even after replacing tires, perhaps during the seasonal tire replacement when, the new diameter of the rims must be re-aligned according to the new parameters.
Founded in 1899 and famous, above all, for its lighting systems, the HELLA group currently operates in the aftermarket industry through several brands, such as HellaHengst, HellaPagid and BehrHella Service, all active as original equipment manufacturers and on the aftermarket, ranging from filters to braking systems, from air conditioning to special equipment, from electronics to lighting.
Taking advantage of the recent German Automechanika show held in Frankfurt, HellaGutmann expanded its offer, dedicated to both official networks and independent operators, with a portable version of the CSC Tool. A solution, soon available on the market, able to offer new opportunities for mobile workshops, body shops and glass replacement specialists, fleet assistance and car repair consortia, all able to work on the spot or quickly move all the necessary equipment to perform, every calibration procedure, according to the standards defined by the manufacturer.