Understanding ADAS Calibration

May 1, 2020
How Autel calibration systems enable technicians to effectively calibrate cameras, night vision, Lidar and radar based systems.

There are close to 60 million vehicles with some type of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) on the road today. As of May 2018, back-up cameras became a federally mandated feature on new vehicles and 20 major automakers committed to including forward collision warning (FCW) and city-speed automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard equipment on their vehicles starting September 2022. Audi, Volvo, Mercedes Benz and Tesla have already met that goal.

Many, if not most, of these vehicles are equipped with camera-dependent systems such as AEB with pedestrian detection and even some blind spot detection (BSD). And these are just the basic systems at this time; the front-facing cameras are also used in traffic sign recognition, automatic parking, cross-traffic alert and adaptive lighting systems. The emergence of these technologies and their increasing popularity have added layers of complexity, time and cost to vehicle repairs including glass repair and replacement.

Why do glass-focused shops need to be aware of ADAS calibration?

According to AAA, more than 14.5 million windshields are replaced annually. As the number of vehicles with ADAS input, such as front-facing and side view mirror cameras rises, auto glass shops need to incorporate calibration into their vehicle repair procedures. Regardless if the service is subletted to other shops, performed by a mobile ADAS calibration technician or completed in-house, glass-focused shops need to understand their liability to complete the calibration after the windshield replacement and before the vehicle is returned to the owner. It is their responsibility to educate themselves about these systems and keep their customers safe after the repairs.

When do cameras need to be recalibrated?

Every glass technician should know that if a windshield is replaced or if the camera is disconnected for whatever reason, the camera will need to be recalibrated. A camera code displayed during a diagnostic scan, deployment of the air bag or an alignment or a change in suspension would also necessitate a camera calibration. A camera calibration is an adjustment of the operating parameters of the camera lens or lenses to capture an image of the environment ahead. Depending on the camera system, the horizontal field of view on a forward-facing camera is between 40 and 70 degrees. During the repair, even the slightest adjustment of this camera field of view, will disrupt the system's ability to accurately ensure the safety is was designed to provide. Calibrations can be stationary, which involve targets or patterns, dynamic, which is involved in driving the vehicle in a prescribed manner including a specific duration, speed and environment, and some vehicles require both static and dynamic calibrations.

How important is a calibration to effectiveness of ADAS? 

Consider this Institute for Highway Safety (IHS) test/demonstration that highlighted the frightening result when a vehicle’s collision avoidance system relies on the data from a misaligned front camera to first warn the driver of an imminent crash and then to actively engage the systems to brake when the driver fails to act. The IHS tested a vehicle with a front-facing camera that was misaligned by .6 degrees to the right. The IHS found that this variance affected “the perceived collision threat, thus delaying first the driver prompt or warning to brake and then delaying when the vehicle itself initiated braking.” The result was a warning prompt that gave the driver just 2.8 seconds to respond and gave the vehicle just .9 seconds to brake. It didn’t, and the vehicle collided with the obstacle at 20 mph.

What calibration systems should shops use?

It’s important to not simply learn the basic concepts behind the many advanced systems on

today’s vehicles, but to also be knowledgeable about the very different ways each brand and model uses the data from these input devices⁠—including the cameras and radar sensors⁠—to control how the vehicle reacts. Therefore, it falls on the technician’s shoulders to learn the vehicles systems they most often service and continue to keep up with emerging trends. That’s exactly why Autel produces two ADAS calibration systems: a standard frame and a mobile frame system. Both systems provide upgradeable options to enable technicians higher technicality to efficiently calibrate cameras, night vision, Lidar and radar-based systems that are so instrumental to vehicle operations and to the safety of its passengers. As the leading developer of automotive diagnostic scan tools, we feel it is our responsibility to provide that level of system capability.

How do the calibration systems work?

Both of the Autel calibration systems include patterns, targets, radar and night vision calibration tools used with the MaxiSYS ADAS software. In addition to communicating with the ADAS modules and initiating calibration, Autel’s ADAS software itself acts as a training guide for setup of each calibration, with detailed illustrations for proper frame positioning and instructional videos enabling the technician to perform every step in the calibration process. The tablet displays the basic vehicle requirements before initiating the calibration, to ensure consistent vehicle height, such as parking on a level ground, ensuring fuel and fluids are filled, and that the vehicle carries no additional cargo. Each procedure screen lists the tools needed, including the correct vehicle-specific target or pattern part number. The tablet displays exact OE-specific measurements and easy-to-follow instructions.

As automakers advance their materials and electronics toward the autonomous vehicle, there is little doubt these driver-assist technologies will necessitate technicians and their shops to evolve and adapt to prosper.

Also from Glass Guide