As ADAS and automonous vehicles evolve, so must repair shop business models
El Cajon, Calif.— Imagine 15 years from now, when 80-90 percent of vehicles sold will have some sort of autonomous system that will be highly integrated, and systems will be complicated and difficult to debug problems.
“People will want experts who specialize in self-driving systems,” said Fred Gruner, principal hardware engineer in charge of functional safety for central processing units (CPU) at NVIDIA. “So, you’ve got 15 years between then and now to develop the specialty, advertise it, and brand yourself.”
Gruner was a guest speaker at the recent Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) September Team Weekend, held at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, which drew nearly 70 ASCCA shop owners and technicians from all over California and featured a five-hour “Connected Cars” training session presented by several industry experts.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) will allow connected cars to have more computing power than ever for new advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and tomorrow’s self-driving cars,” he said.
Learning from data – a computer’s version of life experience – is how AI evolves. Through GPU deep learning, in which deep neural networks are trained to recognize patterns from massive amounts of data, has sparked the AI computing age.
The SAE has identified five levels of autonomous driving:
• Level 0: Automated system warnings but has no vehicle control
• Level 1: Driver assistance (hands on) – driver and automated system share control of the vehicle
• Level 2: Partial automation (hands off) – the automated system takes full control of the vehicle
• Level 3: Conditional automation (hands off) – driver can safely turn their attention away from driving tasks
• Level 4: High automation (mind off) – same as level 3, but no driver attention is every required for safety
• Level 5 – Full automation (wheel optional) – no human intervention is required.
“We already have Level 0 to Level 2 systems today,” Gruner said. “Industry experts say that by 2025 there will be 150 million autonomous vehicles on the road. OEM manufacturers that get into the game late and try to play catch up may even go out of business.”
Safety as well as convenience
According to a report from Science Alert, driverless cars could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent, saving more than 300,00 lives each decade.
“There are more than 35,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year (on average), plus $190 billion a year in health care costs associated with accidents, and human error is responsible for 90 percent of the deaths,” Gruner said.
Beyond that, he predicts as much as an 85 percent reduction in accidents of any kind and at least one car company, Volvo, is set to take business from insurance companies by accepting all liability when their cars are in autonomous mode.
Impact on independent repair facilities
The reduction in accidents will mean fewer repairs. Each vehicle computer system will be more OEM specialized, which will include increased sensor complexity (i.e. 12 cameras per car), RADAR, and LIDAR. System safety will require everything to have on-board diagnostics, which will flag faulty components for replacement, often before they fail, Gruner said.
Rocky Khamenian, 2018 ASCCA President said, “I have been a member of this association for 18 years and have never experienced anything like this Team Weekend. It was full of excitement and great information. I was exhausted with a smile on my face. I am so lucky to have leaders and a staff that are just incredible. And a special thank you to our host, Chapter 24, and everyone in the chapter.”