9 May 2019

With over 4 million cars on UK roads today being fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking systems (AEB), equating to more than 10% of all vehicles, a dearth of information has emerged on how to approach the repair of these safety critical systems.

To provide much needed clarity on how to manage vehicle repairs involving Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Thatcham Research is today providing information about its approach to the automotive, automotive repair and insurance industries on this topic.

Richard Billyeald, Thatcham’s Chief Technical Officer comments “As ADAS continues its ever-increasing penetration into the car parc, the lack of a clear approach to the repair of ADAS-equipped vehicles is having an effect across the whole repair industry. For their own peace of mind, insurers and repairers need proof that they have taken all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle before returning it to the road.”

The Thatcham Research position on the safe repair of ADAS:

If ADAS sensors, or parts that are in proximity to ADAS sensors, are included in a repair specification, calibration post repair must be completed to confirm sensors are functioning to the vehicle manufacturers’ specified tolerances.

In addition, to enable identification and safe repairs involving ADAS, vehicle repairers should:

  • Assess for the presence of ADAS sensors and record the outcome clearly;
  • Research and seek guidance from relevant repair methods and calibration instructions;
  • Ensure all calibration activities are completed by currently competent technicians;
  • Complete system calibration in accordance with the relevant repair method / instruction;
  • Be able to demonstrate that the calibration of all affected sensors has been completed and that the results of the calibration confirms functionality within the vehicle manufacturer’s specified tolerance – unless stated otherwise in the repair specification;
  • Where no specific repair guidance exists, and functionality cannot be proven through systemised calibration, then advice should be sought from the vehicle manufacturer’s dealership network and appropriate action taken prior to vehicle release;
  • If vehicle manufacturer information states dynamic calibration, this should be completed and confirmed prior to vehicle release.

Billyeald continues, “ADAS supports the driver to prevent a crash in the first place. This represents a huge step forwards for vehicle safety and the transition into more advanced assisted and Automated Driving will continue to raise the safety bar. However, whilst that benefit may be fully realised on a new car, maintaining it once a car has been repaired is vital.”

“The whole industry needs to work together to make sure ADAS repairs are safe and vehicles are returned to the road quickly and efficiently. Equipment suppliers must ensure that verifiable evidence of a successful calibration is provided. Repairers must invest in training to ensure competent persons are reinstating ADAS safely. And Vehicle Manufacturers must provide ADAS fitment data and consistent advice around which repair scenarios will result in successful ADAS calibration.”

Laurenz Gerger, policy adviser for motor insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: “Insurers are major supporters of systems which improve vehicle safety and reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. With a number of assistance systems set to become mandatory from 2021, it will be even more important to have clear guidance on managing vehicle repairs involving them. Ensuring these high-tech systems are working effectively after a repair is an important part of putting a vehicle back onto the roads and we are committed to helping establish the standards and processes to make sure this happens.”

In addition to the information issued today, Thatcham Research has created a guide for repairers on ADAS system calibration requirements and identifying component locations and functions. A pdf version is available by contacting Dean.Lander@thatcham.org.

Thatcham Research is also working with the industry to develop a Code of Practice and has commenced a round of consultation with Vehicle Manufacturers, insurers, windscreen repair and replacement companies, equipment providers and repairers. The full Code of Practice will then be released later this year.

The move has been welcomed by The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), with their CEO, Steve Nash saying:

“More than 10% of vehicles on the road today are fitted with AEB, equating to some 4 million cars. But whilst this new technology is now becoming commonplace, it is often difficult for a motorist – or their insurer – to know that a chosen garage or repair shop has the right skill set to carry out repairs and meet manufacturer tolerances. As a result the insurance sector is keen to ensure that organisations involved in accident and windscreen repair have the right skills to ensure that vehicles are repaired in line with manufacturer tolerances.

“The IMI has been championing the setting of standards to ensure that technicians are appropriately qualified to work on vehicles involving ADAS as well as electrified vehicles through the IMI TechSafe banner. We also launched last year an IMI ADAS Accreditation to help ensure technicians have the expertise to work with ADAS features in vehicles, protecting the safety of drivers when this technology is activated.”

The IMI ADAS accreditation has been designed and developed in partnership with key industry organisations including Thatcham Research. By doing this, the IMI has ensured that the new accreditation is fit for purpose – effectively raising standards in ADAS.

“Motorists need to have the peace of mind that repairs undertaken after an accident are done so that ADAS technology remains wholly effective,” said Steve. “We are therefore urging motor retailers and garages, accident repair shops and windscreen repair businesses to invest in continuous training to make sure their technicians are equipped with the right skills to be able to handle this new and rapidly evolving technology. IMI ADAS Accreditation helps to establish a recognized mark of quality for those needing to demonstrate their competence to safely work with ADAS.”