Challenges to Standardizing ADAS Terminology

March 28, 2019
Experts weigh in on whether it’s feasible to standardize the terminology involved with advanced driver-assistance systems for modern vehicles.

“Autonomous vehicle” is quickly becoming a common term, heard on both news reports and in body shops. In fact, according to a recent AAA study, at least one ADAS feature is available in 92.7 percent of new vehicle models available in the United States in 2018.

And while it’s becoming a standard feature in many new vehicles, that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are as familiar.

In that study from AAA, released at the end of January 2019, the association found that the bewildering array of ADAS marketing names leaves consumers confused about the differences among systems and what the features are supposed to do.

For example, in reviewing 34 vehicles brands, the study found that automatic emergency braking had 40 unique names used to market the feature.

As a result, AAA recommends that the names and definitions of various driver-assistance tech should be standardized.

Jack Rozint, senior vice president of sales and service, auto physical damage solutions, for Mitchell International, says trying to standardize anything is always challenging and the problem is trying to get people to follow the standard processes.

Aaron Schulenburg, executive director for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, feels standardizing ADAS marketing names could be achievable.

“But I think developing common terms is probably more important before it gets to the collision repair market,” Schulenburg says. “AAA has actually done a nice job of distilling terminology down to define systems, tasks and alerts found in today’s vehicles.”

Rozint and Schulenburg discuss what stands in the way of AAA’s recommendation of standardizing names and definitions of various driver-assistance technology and how shop staff can act as an educational resource to customers confused about the features in their vehicles.

Problems with ADAS Terms

The AAA study examined 34 vehicle brands and found 40 unique names for automatic emergency braking, 20 for adaptive cruise control, 20 for surround view camera, 19 for lane-keeping assistance, 19 for blind-spot warning, 18 for automatic high beams, 15 for rear cross-traffic warning, 13 for driver monitoring, 12 for semi-automated parking assist, eight for forward collision warning and five for night vision and pedestrian detection.

That creates the possibility for a lot of confusion among customers.

“Some of the branded names of systems may give customers a sense of greater autonomy, rather than assistance, in what the systems are capable of simply as a result of an interpretation of the name,” Schulenburg says.

He thinks consumers become very reliant on these mechanisms, in place of focused driving tasks that would have otherwise occurred without the technology. For example, a customer could rely on lane departure warning, rather than checking all mirrors to determine a clear path to change lanes.

That means that properly calibrating and repairing those systems is of the utmost importance.

“Understanding that consumer reliance on the systems is why it is so critical that collision repair businesses perform, and insurance claims recognize, the full scope of steps necessary to properly identify faulty system, properly calibrate the array of sensors, radar and LIDAR associated with these systems, and proper restore vehicle functionality and roadworthiness,” Schulenburg says.

Schulenburg says automatic braking systems are probably the most common technology and will be a standard option in most vehicles by 2022.

For collision repair technicians, in order to properly repair these vehicles, Rozint says they have to be knowledgeable about each OEM and what each automaker specifies for the ADAS technology on a vehicle. And, not only does the repairer need to know what the systems are called, but they also must understand how each operates in the vehicles.

“Technicians are dealing with everything from a Tesla to a 10-year-old vehicle with no ADAS,” Rozint says. “They need to be able to be confident in informing the customer that the vehicle systems were repaired correctly.”

Customer familiarity at the moment most likely comes with the prevalence of a term, Schulenburg says. Lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are more commonly increasing options.

Challenges to Standardization

Not long ago, Rozint purchased a newer vehicle and the vehicle came equipped with adaptive cruise control. But, he didn’t initially realize his vehicle was capable of that function. Once he did understand what the name meant in his vehicle manual, he started using adaptive cruise control all the time while he was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

“I [as a consumer] didn’t know my car had capabilities that were always there,” he says.

Rozint says that while the AAA study proposes a good idea, he does not think the industry is at the point to make standardization possible. OEMs, for instance, have strict requirements on what they patent vehicle technology as and could continue to be strict in these terms because of how the terminology portrays the capabilities of the systems.

Currently, there are at least 13 different technologies under the umbrella of advanced driver-assistance systems, Rozint says. “Lane assist” for one car might be called “lane departure warning” on another vehicle.

That’s where shop staff can become a resource for their consumers, in helping explain what the systems do—and what they do not.   

“People do need to understand what technology is on their car and what it does,” Rozint says. “The problem with that is that when [a customer] just made a commitment to buy a car at a dealership, he or she will only have a few minutes to learn how to a program the phone into the car, how to link a phone to bluetooth, how to start and stop the car and then will most likely want to leave.”

So, Rozint says it’s important not to assume that customers coming into your shop are already familiar with the technology because they went to the dealership. Instead, even if it takes more time, have the technician go over how the systems work with the customer.

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