ADAS: great commitment to the sector in Brussels
The fact that Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and all related verification and calibration tools are now in great demand, was clearly demonstrated during the Autopromotec 2019 event, where a proliferation of solutions from some of the major manufacturers in the sector were showcased.
Calibration tools for cameras and sensors have been around for some years, though previously considered specialized equipment. This is no longer the case: the entire car repair sector is perfectly aware of the true scale of the issue, and is looking at upgrading itself to capitalize on a business that seems to show the greatest development potential.
And ADAS now are the talk of the town at all levels, both professional and political. In less than two weeks, two meetings were held in Brussels with ADAS as one of the central themes.
The first of these meetings, organised under the aegis of the Transport Commission, focused on retrofitting ADAS to vehicles not originally equipped with them. For the Commission, the Regulation on Vehicle Safety, currently undergoing a comprehensive revision, ADAS represent the best option in pursuing the goal of significantly reducing accidents and fatalities on the road. And some results have already been achieved: the market is already talking of a new tendency to reduce repair work on bumpers thanks to assisted parking systems.
Retrofit ADAS are already available on the market and some of them are already experiencing a marked growth. However, the most interesting point dealt with during the meeting, at least according to us, was the emphasis placed on the role of after-sales service providers and their importance in promoting road safety. For retrofits to work properly, though, it is necessary for car manufacturers to provide the necessary interface and maintenance information to follow the same standards found on original equipment.
ADAS took the centre stage also during another meeting organised by the European Commission's Review Committee (DRC Committee). The general theme was the future developments in MOT inspections in view of the next edition of the General Road Safety Directive scheduled for the end of 2019. Among the many topics ADAS stood out as a key safety element, and consequently, future roadworthiness inspections will have to take this into account. Without going into technical details, it was clearly stated that suitable tests for this purpose are already possible now using the OBD port and other measuring equipment. EGEA, also present at the meeting, stressed that the necessary equipment for such tests could also be quite affordable if data and protocols are standardised as much as possible.
EGEA’s attention to the subject matter is evident by the fact that a working group, called WG2-ADAS, was recently set up and dedicated to after-sales service. In view of the expected gradual mandatory nature of ADAS on vehicles, car repairers are called upon to acquire the needed equipment, a business opportunity not to be missed. The WG2-ADAS has identified a number of priorities on which to work: data and calibration parameters accessible by law; certified and traceable access systems such as SERMI; professional training programs; work procedures and, finally, equipment that complies with a minimum level of quality.
The WG2-ADAS is working in two directions: one relates to the calibration and maintenance procedures of ADAS devices, the other is an acceptable equipment standard suitable for both MOT inspections and routine repair and maintenance services, thus meeting, at the same time, the needs of the market and the necessary safety requirements, a true source of concern for most motorists when it comes to assisted driving.
Cyber-security for connected vehicles and assisted driving
Cyber-security, is taking the spotlights both in Geneva (UNECE) and in Brussels where the European Commission is busy reviewing the General Regulation on the Safety of Motor Vehicles.
UNECE, a UN body responsible, according to international agreements, for global harmonization in the field of land transport, has recently decided to focus its work on autonomous/assisted driving, setting up a dedicated group called GRVA. Not long after that the group identified cyber-security as a priority: no need to be Isaac Asimov to imagine apocalyptic scenarios with hackers able to send the world’s traffic totally hey-wire without adequate digital security.
UNECE has set itself the ambitious target of achieving, by the end of 2019, a comprehensive framework for a type-approval regulation of "IT security systems" made by the manufacturers and used on their vehicles. The concept behind this idea is: since the manufacturers are responsible for safety on their vehicles, it is only reasonable that they are given the option to design their own cyber-security system; the protocol (or type-approval) will consist of inspection procedures without the need to define any minimum requirements, which is what happens in the case of motor vehicles.
This is the case with UNECE, which, it is worth remembering, is not a legislative body per se, but international agreements give it such authority that legislators tend to refer to its guidelines when developing laws, as in the case, for example, of tires. As far as the European Commission is concerned, this has already announced that it will refer extensively to the results of UNECE’s work when revising the General Regulation on the safety of motor vehicles.
While cyber-security is a vital requirement for assisted driving, it can also cause problems for car repairers, as noted by AFCAR, the European Alliance for Freedom in Car Repair. AFCER’s concerns are rather concrete: on-board cyber-security systems have as their primary purpose the blocking of unauthorized access to vehicles, which could be harmful or even dangerous for passengers. This much is true, but we should not forget that "external" access is and will always be necessary, especially during maintenance work, at least for diagnosis, which is increasingly important and sophisticated (see ADAS calibration). Therefore, the general concern is that cyber-security might be used as an excuse to erect barriers with discretionary access, thus excluding a large part of independent repairers.