Vehicle technology advances and their implications for the aftermarket

As technology in the automotive industry becomes more advanced, whether it’s electrification of powertrains, more advanced driver assistance features or total autonomous driving, we caught up with Rob Roberts, National Windscreens’ technical adviser, to understand how this might affect the day-to-day traffic through the doors of our branches, and the adaptations glazing replacement will have to make to keep up.

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Tesla’s ADAS calibration function performs just like every other manufacturer, but unlike other vehicles it doesn’t require an external device to be plugged into the car, such as the diagnostic equipment that we use, to understand the results and initiate the car’s calibration system. Although if the camera won’t calibrate this way, it will require connecting to a Tesla diagnostics tool and a calibration target panel is needed.

Separate components of the vehicle’s ADAS systems are now starting to communicate with each other, seamlessly to deliver improved driver and pedestrian safety and autonomous emergency braking, as seen on newer vehicles which utilise radar, lidar and camera systems simultaneously.

“Current vehicles sold in the UK are restricted to Level 2 autonomy, as technology moves forward and the level of autonomy available to consumers rises, there will be more sensors and technology that will require a calibration; meaning we must stay abreast with the advances in technology, to continue to deliver a market leading calibration service,” Rob says.

As you will see in the video below of a level 4 autonomous vehicle, the Renault Symbioz, there is a lot of technology required for the vehicle to function correctly and safely.


Augmented reality head-up displays

Windscreens are getting larger due to vehicle size increasing over the years, as well as becoming thinner as vehicle manufacturers try to decrease vehicle weight to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Glass technology is changing all the time, but a windscreen that can self-determine if it needs replacing or repairing is a long way off.

Rob says: “One of the most recent technologies I have seen that will change the automotive glass industry that may affect us, is augmented reality head-up display.”

Rob went with technical team colleagues Sam Clements and Lee Powell to the Pilkington Research and Development Centre in 2020, where this technology was in the early stages of development.

But it is now available, with the Volkswagen Group bringing it out with the new VW ID3 and ID4 EVs, Mercedes S-Class, and some Audi models. The Mercedes A-Class has a separate augmented reality camera that requires calibration, the Mercedes uses the multimedia screen to display the information rather than the heads-up display.

“In the videos you will see that the car management system communicates with the camera, radar, steering angle sensor, GPS, suspension, and more,” Rob says.

“But what does this mean for us? It means that when the glass is replaced, it is imperative that we supply only glass of the highest quality that is at least to original equipment standard, so that the head-up display is not affected and functions correctly. Technicians are going to have to understand how systems work so that they can ensure the systems work correctly after glass replacement and calibration.

“Calibrations for cameras and radar may have to be completed simultaneously, maybe even front laser sensor systems, blind spot monitoring, and 360-degree cameras. Road tests will be required to ensure that these systems work in accordance with the Thatcham IIR (insurance industry regulations).”

DOIP (Diagnostics Over Internet Protocol)

“The next challenge for us is DOIP, with the newer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and BMW vehicles utilising this system for their diagnostics meaning that we can’t currently calibrate the vehicle using our existing calibration equipment. We are researching and trialling new hardware and software to be able to overcome this challenge.

“A lot more vehicle manufacturers are going to be moving towards DOIP for diagnostics which includes the calibration ADAS-based sensors due to the speed that data needs to be processed, as well as remote diagnostics. We have already seen this filter through in recent months," Rob says.

Further information on how DOIP works is available in the video below.

Hyundai’s solar-charging panoramic roof

Hyundai’s latest generation of the Sonata has an optional feature of solar panels in the roof that assist with charging the battery for the hybrid system.

“Hyundai is quietly getting on with pushing the boundaries of technology,” Rob said.