Autonomous Vehicles Will Rely on Advanced Coatings Technology

You may not be ready to leave the driving up to your car or truck’s computer, but work is rapidly progressing toward that being an eventuality.

On the path to autonomy, the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) of today are already showing how they reduce driver workload and fatigue by helping with keeping the car within the painted lines, adjusting speed and following distance with adaptive cruise control, and alerting to vehicles passing within the blind spot. The more advanced systems even apply the brakes automatically in a panic stop if the car senses an impending collision.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) rates levels of autonomy in six levels, from zero (no automation) to five (fully autonomous, with no driver interaction required.) The most advanced of today’s cars currently operate at Level 3, what SAE calls “conditional automation,” with the driver not needing to keep his or her hands on the wheel but with the need to be able to take control at any time.

PPG is pioneering research in autonomous vehicle coatings

The ability for a car to be completely autonomous will hinge on the accuracy of sensors used to detect and discern objects as would a sharp-eyed human: “Is that a shallow puddle? Or is it a huge pothole?” And coatings play into this, as they can affect how light is reflected to the sensors.

In PPG’s testing, a black car reflected just six percent of the near infrared signal that a white car did, making it dramatically less “visible” on the road to sensors. So PPG has designed coatings that will have enhanced dark-colored vehicle detectability that will allow the light to penetrate to a reflective under-layer. The signal then bounces off that layer and returns to the sensor so that the car can be “seen” by an autonomous vehicle. It’s an outgrowth of PPG’s aerospace business, which already uses coatings that reflect light and heat. The paints could also be used for infrastructure such as signs, roads, and bridges, so they can be clearly identified and precisely measured by a car’s sensors.

More coatings to come

In addition to that under-layer coating technology that better manages the reflectivity of specific wavelengths, PPG expects within two years to market improved coatings that will absorb less infrared light and still provide excellent color and appearance. PPG will also produce improved coatings that enhance the radar reflectivity and transmission properties of plastic and composite substrates.

Certain sensors can be adversely affected if a vehicle is not clean or has excessive build of paint film or body repair materials. Some blind spot monitors, behind the rear bumper, are a perfect example. It follows that normal driving conditions mean that a buildup of mud, snow, or ice, can render those sensors inaccurate. PPG is creating easy-to-clean coating technology that allows dirt and water to quickly and easily wash away, keeping those sensors obstruction-free.

Radio frequency is another important consideration

Autonomous mobility is dependent upon radio signals. Radio frequency leakage allows electromagnetic signals to drift and bleed into one another, creating crosstalk that can negatively affect the system’s performance. Proven coatings technology from PPG’s aerospace business will ensure that signals don’t get mixed up.

When autonomous vehicles hit the road, PPG and Gipe Auto Color will be ready

These are a few considerations your technicians and painters need to be aware of for today’s vehicles and those that may be showing up at your door sooner than you think. PPG and Gipe Auto Color will be ready when that day comes. Contact us to be sure your production staff is, too!

About Gipe Auto Color

With over 50 team members and 9 locations serving Kentucky, Southern Indiana, Southeast Illinois, and Northwest Tennessee, Gipe Auto Color is one of the largest PPG™ Platinum Distributors in the region.  We have seven dedicated tech reps certified in all PPG™ automotive refinish product lines.  Their primary duty is to help customers apply PPG™ coatings using techniques that ensure maximum performance day in and day out.

Our service does not stop in the paint shop. We offer assistance in process evaluation, development of standard operating procedures, inventory management, performance data analysis, and targeted improvement strategies with an emphasis on customer profitability.

For expert assistance with PPG software, online tools and resources, call 502.966.2384  Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm.