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The fervent push to end all automobile-related injuries and deaths has landed on one societally telling conclusion: Keep the car, get rid of the human. People, after all, are the ones making the mistakes that lead to 5,000-pound man-made Earth asteroids hurtling into the opposite lane at 75 miles per hour. 

The core idea is that computers can be programmed to eliminate mistakes. The dream is fully autonomous consumer cars, though that’s still a matter of the future. The basis of the technology, however, has been implemented in many modern vehicles with computer programs called advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). 

The world of driver aids can get confusing and complicated, so we’ve assembled a guide to explain it all in one place. Educate yourself below.

What Does ADAS Stand For? 

ADAS is an acronym for advanced driver-assistance systems. 

What Are ADAS and What Do ADAS Do? 

On the smallest scale, ADAS are electronic systems built into automobiles that are designed to aid and help people drive by mitigating driver input against risky situations, actions, and accidents. This varies from information provided to the driver to active inputs from the car such as stopping, changing lanes, or accelerating.

On the largest scale, ADAS technology is one of the base steps toward fully autonomous driving. 

What’s the Difference Between Active and Passive ADAS?

Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems can be active or passive. The main difference lies in whether or not the vehicle automatically reacts to information with some sort of driving input or simply relays the information to the driver. If it is an active system, it will understand that your vehicle is drifting out of its lane and automatically kick you back into the lane. If it is a passive system, the vehicle will send a notification to the driver that the vehicle is drifting out of the lane but it will not make any driving inputs or decisions.

A graphic showing adaptive cruise control.
Adaptive cruise control is one of the most useful adaptive driver assistance systems.

Common Active Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)

  • Forward or Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

If you’re driving forward or reversing, automatic emergency braking identifies obstructions and automatically stops the car before impact.

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

Adaptive cruise control is the next generation of traditional cruise control. Once you set the speed you want to go, the car consistently reads its surroundings. When a vehicle arrives in front of you, the car brakes or accelerates to maintain a consistent driver-chosen distance away. Some systems will bring the car to a complete stop and can be reactivated with one press of the green pedal. 

  • Lane-Keeping Assist (LKS)

Lane-keeping assist identifies the lane lines and bounces the vehicle back into the lane when it starts to cross a line.

  • Lane Centering (LC)

Lane centering detects the lane lines and keeps the vehicle in the center of those lines by using small steering inputs.

  • Traffic Jam Assist (TJA)

Traffic jam assist is a combination of lane centering and adaptive cruise control. Basically, it alleviates most of the work while a driver is stuck in traffic.

  • Automatic High Beams

In some cars, the high beams will automatically turn on when a certain level of darkness is detected. 

  • Active/Adaptive Headlamps

Adaptive headlights automatically shift left or right to follow the road while the vehicle goes around a corner or turn.

  • Parking Assistance

There is a wide spectrum of parking assistance technologies currently available on the market. A rearview camera is now required by law, and a majority of new cars come with sensors on the front and rear of the car to alert the driver of nearby obstructions.

Beyond those basic features, cars can now be optioned to virtually park themselves. Some are designed to parallel park with minimal driver input, others can fit into tight spaces on their own without driver input. 

One of the wildest examples of this is Hyundai’s Smart Park, a feature that can be activated with the remote while standing outside the vehicle. Press the right buttons, and you can watch the car park itself. 

A close-up of an ECU.
All ADAS are controlled by computers.

Common Passive Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

Using a sound, a symbol, simple lights, vibrations, or all of the above, the lane departure warning alerts the driver when the vehicle begins to cross a lane line into a different lane.

  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)

Using a sound, a symbol, simple lights, vibrations, or all of the above, the blind spot monitor will notify the driver of a vehicle currently in the blind spot.

  • Pedestrian Detection (PD)

Pedestrian detection identifies people in front of a vehicle and reads what they are doing. 

  • Rear Cross-Traffic Warning (RCTW)

A rear cross-traffic warning alerts the driver when the vehicle recognizes something passing by the rear of the vehicle. This is particularly useful when backing out of your driveway or out of a parking spot.

  • Forward-Collision Warning (FCW)

A forward-collision warning notifies the driver when the vehicle is driving too quickly toward a slow or inanimate object. 

  • Traffic Sign Recognition

With the ability to read and understand traffic signs, your car can communicate this information clearly and directly on screens within your vehicle and use the information to inform other system decisions.

  • Surround-View Camera

All new cars have backup cameras, but not all new cars have surround-view cameras. Technically, surround-view cameras use four or more cameras that feed into one stitched-together image view for an overhead effect. Seen on a digital screen on the dashboard, this view feels like a satellite is watching your vehicle in real-time and can be very helpful in tight situations.

What Technologies Enable ADAS? 

It might get lost in the acronym, but it’s advanced driver-assistance systems, plural. To accomplish the tasks these incredibly complex programs are performing, they require multiple sources of information and data. The primary sources are cameras, radar, and LiDAR. Let’s explore.

  • Cameras

Front-, side-, and rear-facing cameras mounted all over the inside and outside of the vehicle help give the car a complete view of its surroundings. Cameras can see things no radar or lidar could ever comprehend, so they are crucial to these systems.

  • Radar

Radar stands for radio detection and ranging. Basically, radar sends out radio signals and waits for them to bounce back. Once the signals return to the radar, it can determine where an object is and how far away it is.

  • LIDAR

LIDAR stands for light detection and ranging. These devices, in combination with sensors placed on the car, use laser mapping, a Global Positioning System (GPS), and an Inertial Navigation System (INS) to paint a simulation of the surrounding environments.

Car Bible’s Glossary for ADAS

For context, it’s important to understand the relation between ADAS and autonomy. This is explained using the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Levels of Driving Automation. They go as follows: 

  • Level 0: No Automation

“The human driver does all the driving.”

  • Level 1: Driver Assistance

“An advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) on the vehicle can sometimes assist the human driver with either steering or braking/accelerating, but not both simultaneously.”

  • Level 2: Partial Automation

“An advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) on the vehicle can itself actually control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances. The human driver must continue to pay full attention (“monitor the driving environment”) at all times and perform the rest of the driving task.”

  • Level 3: Conditional Automation

“An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all aspects of the driving task under some circumstances. In those circumstances, the human driver must be ready to take back control at any time when the ADS requests the human driver to do so. In all other circumstances, the human driver performs the driving task.”

  • Level 4: High Automation

“An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can itself perform all driving tasks and monitor the driving environment – essentially, do all the driving – in certain circumstances. The human need not pay attention in those circumstances.”

  • Level 5: Full Automation

“An automated driving system (ADS) on the vehicle can do all the driving in all circumstances. The human occupants are just passengers and need never be involved in driving.”

Your Questions, Our Answers on ADAS

Q: What Is ADAS Calibration? 

A: Because ADAS systems rely on specifically tuned and set sensors and cameras, calibration is required to make sure they are functioning precisely how and where they’re supposed to. If even one of the sensors is not calibrated correctly, an entire system could be thrown off and create a dangerous situation.

Special tools, machines, and training are required to calibrate a car and its ADAS, so it’s recommended to leave it to the professionals. Depending on the vehicle and ADAS, cars require static, dynamic, or both types of calibrations. 

Q: Do I Need ADAS Calibration? 

A: The primary time a car needs ADAS calibration is after the vehicle has incurred some sort of impact or damage. For example, it is needed after a windshield is replaced. If your car is equipped with ADAS and needs repairs, be sure to ask for a calibration following the repairs.

Q: How Long Does It Take To Calibrate Your ADAS?

A: In addition to any necessary vehicle repairs, Safelite says a single static or dynamic calibration can take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. If both are needed, add another 60-90 minutes. 

Q: How Much Does ADAS Calibration Cost? 

A: The cost of your calibration will depend on the type of calibration, the vehicle, the setup of the sensors, your location, and your vendor, but it should range within $100 and 300. 

Q: Does Insurance Cover ADAS Calibration?

A: This depends on the place of business, the insurance, the situation, the car, and the person, but in many cases, yes, ADAS calibration is covered by insurance.

Car Bible’s Favorite ADAS-Related Products

True Temper Snow Brush

Zwipes Microfiber Towel Cleaning Cloths

Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner

Disclosure: Carbibles.com is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Pages on this site may include affiliate links to Amazon and its affiliate sites on which the owner of this website will make a referral commission. 

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