Turning the Light on ADAS
Designed to assist different aspects of driving, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) provide greater safety for drivers and wider road users by monitoring the environment around the vehicle.
In recent years, particularly over the last 12 months, their use is no longer consigned to the prestige vehicle sector, becoming available in all classes including more affordable vehicles. In fact, Autoglass estimates that by 2020 over 40% of the vehicles on the road in the UK will have at least one ADAS system.
But it’s not just adaptive cruise control, emergency brake, lane and parking assist. Another area revolutionised by ADAS is headlight technology which has shifted from the simple incandescent bulb to a number of high technology solutions. Developments such as Xenon lights and gas discharge lights provide a headlight beam with greater intensity and defined shape to assist driver night-time visibility. But, as the risk of dazzling other drivers is increased, these systems have been developed with auto lights and ‘self-dipping’ capability to overcome this. LEDs are another increasingly common development, offering enhanced performance on a reduced power requirement compared to traditional lighting systems.
Most manufacturers are now providing high technology lighting systems as an option on some models. In addition to the above, systems now being seen on vehicles include:
- Adaptive LED headlights – the beam is turned into a bend to provide better illumination ‘around’ the corner. Input from the steering angle sensor provides data to the lighting to estimate the amount of turn.
- Matrix LED Headlights – have a number of LEDs in each light unit which can be switched on and off by the system individually. This provides long range lighting whilst identifying other vehicles and switching off the appropriate LED to prevent dazzle.
- Long range laser function (optional on BMW I8 and 7 series) – provide a long range high beam function which can illuminate up to approximately 600 metres.
- GPS enabled headlight systems – combine GPS location and headlights to ‘map read’ and illuminate the road, helping the driver to anticipate bends.
Other developments include systems that use infra-red cameras to locate pedestrians and animals, and systems that memorise previously travelled routes. Although beneficial for safety and drivability, when it comes to repair and
replacement, advanced headlight systems can add a significant cost over standard light options. In fact, our research shows that these lighting advancements could increase costs by as much as 68%.*
*Upgrade from a Standard UK spec BMW l8 headlamp to BMW laserlights.
Whilst headlights and other ADAS systems are enhancing road safety, they’re reliant on the sensors fitted on the vehicle operating correctly. Many of the systems have sensors fitted behind the front windscreen – something that Autoglass estimates 67% of drivers are unaware of.
This means, dependent on the vehicle manufacturer, removing or replacing the windscreen could mean re-calibration of the sensor is required. This may be model specific with different models from the same manufacturer having different requirements. There are 2 types of re-calibration:
- Static – this has to be done in a controlled environment on a level surface.
- Dynamic – this is done mobile where the customer’s vehicle is driven and the system re-calibrates.
In the UK, the majority of replacement windscreens are sourced and fitted by specialist companies, using mobile technicians. Although a number of these companies have purchased equipment to re-calibrate ADAS sensors, not all vehicles will be able to be re-calibrated with these tools. In addition to the existing costs for the replacement glass and the fitting of the screen, the calibration process will generate additional expense.
The cost of re-calibration will differ dependent on the complexity of the process but research suggests it varies significantly dependent on manufacturer.
Furthermore, many dealers will have a lead time of days or weeks before they can complete the work, detrimentally impacting the customer journey.
“Thatcham approximates that 6% of road vehicles have windscreen mounted ADAS technology and when accurately calibrated, they could save around 1,100 lives and 122,860 casualties over the next ten years. The industry therefore requires a standardised process for re-calibration to ensure system performance, customer confidence and satisfaction.”
- Mazda 2 (2015 model) – up to two hours labour at dealer, equating to £170 + VAT.
- Toyota Avensis (2015 model) – providing ADAS mounting bracket has not been disturbed system will self-calibrate. If bracket has been disturbed two hours labour at retail rate approx. £200 + VAT.
- Fiat 500L (2015 model) = one hour at £114 + VAT.
- Ford Focus with AEB (Active City Stop) – self calibrating.
- Ford Fiesta with AEB (Active City Stop) – self calibrating.
- VW Golf (2015 model) – requires 4 wheel alignment. Total cost to calibrate 4.5 hours at £120, equating to £540 + VAT.
In July 2016, the Research Centre at Thatcham launched a new voluntary code of practice for re-calibrating car safety technology during the replacement or refit of windscreens. ‘ADAS Glazing Code of Practice’ guidelines recommend a step-by-step approach to re-calibration, including:
- initial identification of different ADAS technologies
- best practice for ensuring full and transparent communication with the customer
- a guide to calibration options, scheduling and pricing.
The ‘ADAS Glazing Code of Practice’ code can be accessed .
As vehicles fitted with these systems become more common and start to move into the used vehicle sector, there will be a number of challenges for the insurance industry.
Broker understanding of the client risk will be pivotal in identifying the full vehicle specification. This awareness is needed from an underwriting perspective for risk and premium selection. At current, these advanced systems tend to be cost options on the vehicle, falling outside of the standard specification identified by vehicle group rating.
Furthermore, these advances don’t come without a price, as they will cause the cost of repairing accident damage to increase. Claims costs will increase with low speed, parking impact costs rising significantly if, for example, a headlight is damaged. The likelihood of a total loss or minor damage may also increase. Additionally, both brokers and insurers need to be aware of the potential for exaggerated claims as opportunists may look to take advantage, if for example, a cracked lens cannot be replaced.
“Increasing understanding of how new technologies are developing will be key to ensuring the industry can support these changing risks in vehicle technology as we move towards autonomous vehicles.”