More ADAS Target Debate
Now that I have been completing more ADAS calibrations I feel more comfortable asking questions and joining some of the debate. My question is for the "OE only" tool only crowd - how far do you take this? By OE only tools, are you talking about just scan tools and targets? Or do you take it one step further and use every OE tool to find the center line and so on. Would you use another brand stand with an OE target? Do you have 6 bubble levels in your truck, all OE?
I think that to play it safe the OEM will always say to use 100% their product. They can't control the aftermarket or what they come up with. I would propose geometry works whether you are the aftermarket or OEM. If you are able to assure the same measurements with the aftermarket product as with the OEM it should not matter. That being said, we all have a target on our backs every time we service a vehicle. When we deal with autonomous features that can cause an accident if not adjusted correctly, that target gets much bigger. I would look at some of the industry standards set by iCar. If iCar accepts a product or solution, you have the collision industry behind you.
If I'm not mistaken, I-car does indeed endorse Autel's ADAS system. Does anyone have definitive evidence either way? Even if they do, will that be "good enough" in the event the unthinkable happens?
Having been through a European OE ADAS class, having the right scan or a scan tool with the right software is a must. Using the alignment machine to help set up and center the calibration equipment was a must.
By the way, it took 3 hours to set and perform 4 calibrations with 4 more still needing to be done. Dynamic steering was done in 10-15 minutes instead of 30-45 minutes of driving, using the OE alignment machine. Oh the codes. If the calibration did not go through correctly, which it did not on the first attempt, lot of U-codes for rationality. If you are not familiar with them and their rationality, what a head ache.
For the center line calibration, there was a lot of talk on safety. Who wants to be the first to have a lawyer bring up a law suite because you think so. Either it was performed to an OE spec or you might be on your own. Google the technician that was convicted of manslaughter because the driver was killed because she lost control of her vehicle. The Judge did through out the charges. But the drama of it all for the cost of a vehicle inspection and you did not want to hurt someone's feelings by telling them that there car has a problem.
As far as the OE targets, if the patterns are the same and the calibrations go through with no codes and no degradation of performance, use them.
Coming from an OE training perspective, do it right and you diminished your chances of having further problems.
Just my take.
I find that everything in life, including this topic is based on reasonableness.
You sound like an articulate individual. If you are able to articulate why, what and how you did it, and the end result is correct, appropriate and professional, I would feel confident in that result. I would not go and make my own targets, use pirated software etc.
Speaking for myself, I use only genuine OEM laptop. There are now several companies as I am sure you know, who produce aftermarket systems. I will utilize the target, but I am very skeptical of the software. I think you can guess who I am referring to.
Be reasonable, you can't go wrong.
I would be more skeptical of the aftermarket targets than the software. The software only instructs the module to perform a task, and that task was created by the OEM. It’s no different than a SAS relearn IMO.
The targets, reflectors, mats, mirrors, etc are an interesting story. I have demoed Autel’s system, but only currently use OEM targets, reflectors and stands as of right now. In some cases, Autel’s hardware is more robust, more accurate and easier to use on certain OE’s. For example, using a laser instead of pulling a string is more accurate. Using an adjustable stand for a reflector is easier and more accurate than some of the OE stands I have seen. So I guess it comes down to how much do you trust A/M vs OE. It also has to make one wonder how much accuracy is really needed (human eye error, width of a Sharpie marker on a piece of tape, center of an emblem or body hardware, etc).
Here’s one of 5 we did this week. The paint isn’t even dry yet and the boiler isn’t installed in our new building.
Also a couple of shots of the demo.
I feel that if you are very precise, keep very good notes, have documentation, use OE SI, there shouldn’t be an issue, even with the main players in the A/M.
Those doing a large amount of calibrations are setting the industry standard for professional service of these systems.
"Industry standards are, in essence, criteria within a particular field of business, and are generally the minimal accepted requirements followed by the members of that industry. In this way, it provides those in a legal setting with an easier to define guideline for defining what is and is not reasonable, even if the standard relates to a field that is outside the ordinary knowledge of normal people. For example, while most people may know nothing about the appropriate industry standard of care for cardiac repair surgery, the standard can be used to identify whether a doctor committed malpractice."
There is really no debate here. Keep up with the industry professionals or risk it all.
Sadly, too many industry professionals push for non-professional solutions (IE NON approved procedures, targets, tooling). I don't understand why we are willing to go above the engineer's heads and use tools that were NOT developed by the people who designed the systems. In time, if the aftermarket develop tools that the OEM's determine to be sufficient, that is one thine (Hunter and Nissan, for example). Until then, we should not assume we are smarter then those who design, develop, and test these systems.
Just a point; when I joined iATN in the 90s using a scope to test and diagnose was not approved by any OEM or aftermarket part manufacture. Up until relatively recently using a scope still was not an approved method. So you are saying that all those non-professional unapproved tests done by all those hundreds of techs were improper and shouldn't have been done? If so, why are they proper now?
As far as your last sentence, I've met many of those people and quite a few techs and I would have to say in my opinion a lot of the good techs are much smarter than those who design, develop and test these systems. Why is it that I hear from Dealer techs who figure our better, faster, safer methods to perform repairs than their "betters" have told them to use, and then those same non professional non approved methods are then found in updated repair manuals or TSBs? I guess that someone who has no experience in repairing vehicles looks at the non professional non approved method and says, "Hey, I like it ! ! ", stamps his seal of approval on it and bang ! ! it is now a professionally approved better way to do it and that makes it okay.
It is one thing to use non approved procedures to test and repair or adjust, then verify your repair (test drive). It is quite another thing to use a non approved procedure that can't be verified as making the vehicle equal to the original OEM condition. Your blanket statement was not well thought out.
So if I'm following your train of thought, those that have performed 1000's of incident-free calibrations with Bosch's A/M system, CAS of NE's system, Autel's system. Texa's system, etc are wrong in using A/M equipment? Those calibrations are or aren't setting setting the industry standard?
Reference the John Eagle lawsuit above. Everyone's seen it by now. I've spoken to many techs who admit to having glued on those roof panels as well. So far, their cars have been incident free. See, they are just waiting for the incident to happen and the right lawyer to latch on after it does.
So, yes. The 1000's of calibrations with anything but the recommended tooling and procedure can be determined as being incorrect.
Does anyone have a direct link to an "incident" with any system that involved an improper calibration resulting in a problem? I am aware of one incident involving a Toyota Lane Departure calibration done at a dealer using OEM equipment that was called into question after a subsequent collision. That one didn't go anywhere, except for a lot of lost time by the defendant.
Another potential interesting situation would be if the driver a vehicle with a non-functioning ADAS system (broken) be liable for the result a collision if the ADAS was working properly? Most, if not all, manufacturers leave themselves an "out" in their disclaimers that ADAS are "assistance" systems and the driver is still ultimately responsible for driving their vehicle.
I have a bad feeling that until some case law is established, there are going to be many cases tried in the courts, with a lot of blood-thirsty lawyers leading the charge. That's not to say that some calibrations can be done incorrectly resulting in collisions regardless of the equipment and procedures used. If you've done a lot of ADAS, you know EXACTLY what I'm referring to..
I don't feel that we will ever see any OE endorsement of any A/M ADAS system. That's not to say that they don't work. At the same time, I doubt you will see any OE explicitly "calling-out" any A/M system as being not capable of performing the tasks correctly. That could surely open themselves up for litigation too.
I was involved in one situation that could have ended up as a mess. I may have posted it here already. A vehicle with a forward wave radar took a very minor hit to the front. There was very minimal front bumper cover and other minor damage. The forward radar unit and bracket were not impacted. There were no codes, pre or post scans, done by the collision center. There was no reason to even have a wheel alignment done. The vehicle ended up in my shop after the collision center had the vehicle return to them with the complaint of the ACC not working. I confirmed that it wasn't working, performed a complete scan with the factory scan tool (no codes), and removed the front bumper cover to find the wave radar unit misaligned slightly (pointing down) due to a minor tweak in the cross bar that the bracket attaches to. I tried to perform the mechanical aiming, but it was too far off. The support bar needed to be repaired.
If you think there is a technician shortage now, wait until shops throw in the towel on ADAS, and with the migration of Otto-cycle propulsion to battery-powered vehicles set to happen in earnest now, the need for qualified techs is only going to go up exponentially . Whether schools provide us with enough "A-techs" the day after the graduation is a pipe dream at best, and an expensive "jobs service" somehow finding every shop in need of a "A-tech" an "A-tech", is another pipe dream. For each "A-tech" that's relocated, another need arises. There isn't an easy solution, but I don't want to have too much "thread wobble here so I'll leave it at that.
So as far now, ADAS a mess. Choose your implements and battles wisely.
Well said Bob.
I think that we need to put more focus on quality control and less focus on what tool you are using.
In order for a calibration technician to be found liable for a collision caused by improper calibration two things must happen.
First the vehicle must be calibrated incorrectly.
Second the vehicle must be involved in a collision that can be directly related to the calibration failure. That means crash data is taken, an investigation is done, and it is determined that had the vehicle been calibrated correctly the loss would not have occurred.
So the real question is: Are the aftermarket tools capable of calibrating these systems correctly?
But the OEM only platform seems to deflate based on the fact that the OEM provides training and certifications to their technicians that the aftermarket may not have access to.
Although some training is available to the aftermarket it does not come with a certification. So if you are not certified as a GM technician than do you really feel that you will appear qualified to calibrate those systems in front of a jury regardless of who's tool you're holding?
The fact is that if something is calibrated incorrectly in a static calibration it is not likely to have anything to do with the tool but more to do with the placement of the tool.
A good portion of the tools used to calibrate ADAS components are made by Bosch or a subsidiary of Bosch. Does that make the Bosch calibration system OE? This is kind of a mute point as the Bosch system is exclusive to Safelite.
But circling back to the two things that must happen in order to be found liable for a loss caused by an improperly calibrated ADAS system. OEM tooling, training and certification will not prevent you from being held liable. The ONLY thing that will prevent you from be held liable is performing the calibration correctly and verifying proper operation of the system before delivering the vehicle back to the customer.
I would rather put my family member in a vehicle that was calibrated with non OEM tools by a technician who's goal was to make that vehicle safe and performed a thorough post calibration test drive than to put a family member in a vehicle that was calibrated by a technician who's goal was to avoid any potential liability and used only OEM tooling.
Not to say that OEM tooling is not always the best choice but I think we are pointing our focus in the wrong direction.
If the tool that you are using has the ability to print-out or save a digital copy of the before and after calibration numbers, and they show the adjustments to be in spec, you should be ok. This doesn't matter if the tool was an AM or OE.
FYI In class I was able to move the calibration number to be off and not set codes, this was done so the techs would have to set the calibration to spec. I did not drive the vehicle but at long ranges it would be off. At the end of class we were able to see the log that showed the adjustment. Again, there was a electronic trail that showed the adjustment was made and the post adjustment numbers were shown.
There are a lot of good calibrations being done and I am sure everything was done correctly. But is there a way to show the results in case there is a problem. If you can show your results were good, I would go after the crash data. This would tell you what the driver was doing right before the crash. I saw a 20 page report from a vehicle that was totaled. 1/2 of second before the vehicle crashed the drive applied the brakes. Obviously it was not soon enough. The driver was at fault.
There was a point that was made about the safety features. Depending on the vehicle, we are either at a Level 2 or on the more advanced vehicles Level 3 autonomy. Which means the driver is in control. All the systems that are on the vehicle today except experimental vehicles are safety features to assist the driver, not take over any controls.
Mike, the direction that I believe should be the focus is how to protect ourselves, as well as performing a good service to the customer. Stay away from the tools that don't work and spend a little time investing in your education. Attach a pre and post scan showing the calibration numbers, manufacturers do not call out lairs unless it is obvious. Hard to argue with the printouts showing your results.
While I think documenting your results is a great idea I don't believe it will release you from any liability.
While I have not done every static calibration out there from what I have seen the final results that may be presented on the screen can easily be manipulated by moving the target slightly.
This means that a lazy calibration technician could get a failing result due to a physically misaligned component, tweak the placement of the target, and then get a passing result. I have a video where I did exactly that and drove the vehicle which was not calibrated correctly and was unsafe to operate despite a passing result. This is important because even a technician at a dealership who might not understand what they are doing could easily make the mistake of thinking that a successful calibration means getting a successful result by manipulating target placement.
While unlikely, this also makes it possible for a calibration technician to accidentally make a mistake and place the target in the wrong position on a vehicle that happens to have a component mechanically misaligned.
As an example, let's say a vehicle with a forward facing radar that is located to the right of the centerline is involved in a collision that has caused the radar to be oriented left slightly. The calibration technician, who may be used to calibrating radar units off of the centerline, makes a mistake and places the target on the centerline rather than to the right of the centerline (in front of the radar) where it is supposed to be placed. The vertical and horizontal aiming will pass and the technician can print out a passing result however the ADAS system will not operate correctly.
Taking this thought a step further I think we can agree that no two technicians performing calibrations, per manufacturer specifications, are likely to place the target at EXACTLY the same spot. There are variables. But there are not often tolerances for these variables.
I would challenge any calibration technician to perform the target setup procedures on the same vehicle from the beginning a few times. Making a target placement mark each time, leaving only that mark and tearing everything down and starting from scratch. Even the most precise technician is likely to see that mark land at least a few millimeters away from each other once or twice after a few attempts.
So what is the tolerance?
I don't think the tolerance is relavent to us as technicians or to a jury in a court of law. Because who is going to be able to prove that the calibration was done out of tolerance?
Simply put if the calibration is done correctly the only relevant results will be verifying system operation.
A note such as "verified brake prefill operation via data stream upon approaching slower moving vehicle" accompanied by a screenshot showing the prefill status in the data stream would verify that the system is operating correctly.
In my opinion the only way to ensure idemninty during these calibrations is to make sure the systems are performing correctly.