UVeye scanners uncover auto wear and tear in service lane

What started out as security tech that scanned vehicles for weapons and explosives has been transformed into what some in the auto industry are calling "game-changing" tech for dealers and manufacturers.

by ZeuCer

What started out in 2016 as a security technology that scanned vehicles for weapons and explosives at international border checkpoints has been transformed into what some in the auto industry are calling “game-changing” technology for dealers and manufacturers.

Companies such as General Motors, Volvo, Toyota, Hyundai and CarMax — plus investors not affiliated with the auto industry — are lining up to invest in UVeye because they see the benefit for their business.

CEO Amir Hever, who developed the technology and co-founded the company, originally sought to supply the security industry with an alternative to mirrors on long handles used to inspect vehicle undercarriages for explosives. He created a camera-based, high-speed system equipped with artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies.

At the checkpoints, the founders noticed that as more vehicles were scanned, the more the technology detected wear and tear on undercarriages that were interpreted as false positives, or “anomalies.”

“We needed an understanding of what we would need to know to modify the technology for the automotive industry,” Hever says.

UVeye started working with several auto manufacturers in 2019 with technology that scanned vehicles for manufacturing defects as they were coming through final assembly in plants. But progress with the auto industry was derailed the following year by COVID-19 restrictions worldwide.

In 2021, the technology became available to some dealers who tested it in their service lanes, where incoming vehicles drive over a floor unit or through an arch equipped with the technology. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“We need state-of-the-art technology to backfill on lost service sales due to the EV market,” says Mike Bowsher, dealer principal of Carl Black stores selling General Motors brands in the Southeast and a longtime leader on the GM dealer council. “This is the answer.”

Bowsher says he learned of UVeye from his son who saw a presentation at a Digital Dealer conference. He says the technology will be installed at the Carl Black dealership in Kennesaw, Ga., as well as stores in Nashville and Orlando during the next several months.

Bowsher says it takes roughly a week for the overall scanner system to be fully operational, with about a day and a half devoted to the installation and another two days to fine-tune the cameras and measure and tweak the scans.

Bowsher says that after he saw the UVeye tech operational at his Roswell, Ga., dealership, he told GM executives the technology was “a winner and a no-brainer.” He says that in late June, about 30 GM dealerships were signed up for UVeye, with the units installed at about half.

“You don’t want to be in the back of the line for this technology,” he says.

UVeye says its hardware is offered to GM dealerships at no cost. Dealerships pay separate monthly subscription costs for the software for each of three systems. UVeye says its relationship with GM is covered by a nondisclosure agreement, and each manufacturer program varies significantly.

The three basic systems are:

1. Helios: An underbody scanner that detects problems including frame damage, missing parts and fluid leaks, as well as brake and exhaust system issues.

2. Artemis: A tire scanner that within seconds identifies tire brand, technical specs, air pressure, tread depth, sidewall damage, alignment issues and whether a vehicle’s tires are mismatched.

3. Atlas: A 360-degree detection system that checks sheet metal and other external body components, such as bumpers, door locks, grilles and windows.

Dealership cost will vary depending on the number of systems ordered, the number of service lanes on which they are used and the scanning or service lane volume required.

Hever says that UVeye systems ensure accurate and recorded inspections are done quickly compared with manual inspections. “Manual inspections are subjective, incomplete, time-consuming and subject to error,” he says.

The three systems create condition reports with high-resolution photos detailing the inspection results that can be shared with the customers, often as soon as they get out of their cars in the service lane.

Volvo Cars USA announced in March it was rolling out the UVeye technology to select dealerships on the East Coast to improve customer satisfaction and safety.

Rick Bryant, vice president of sales operations, says Volvo ran a pilot on the UVeye technology at four dealerships. As a result, Volvo will launch the technology across its dealership network. How much Volvo is paying for the systems and the amount the automaker is subsidizing for dealerships is proprietary and covered by a nondisclosure agreement, the two parties say.

“The pilot dealerships have done well with the technology, and we are ready to scale now,” Bryant says. “We have just approved funding to help offset the costs of the technology to the dealerships.”

Bryant, who started his career as a technician in a dealership and has worked as a service adviser, service manager and sales manager, is optimistic about what the technology can do for service departments and to enhance Volvo’s reputation for safety.

“There’s not a human being alive that can do what this technology does,” he says. “It will spot things consumers can’t see. This will change the way consumers interact with Volvo.”

He estimated that by the end of the year, 30 to 40 Volvo dealers would be using UVeye technology in their service lanes. And he said it would not replace technicians.

“It has transparency, repeatability and results in a multipoint inspection. I don’t see a better solution anywhere.”

He says UVeye’s technology can be applied to the electric market because the scans can identify issues with paint, glass and tires. He said the technology would also help with lease returns in determining wear-and-tear conditions as well as assist in determining the true value of trade-in vehicles.

At McCluskey Chevrolet in Cincinnati, Service Director Tim Shaw is using one UVeye scanner and has ordered two additional units.

“It’s jaw-dropping,” Shaw says. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 37 years at this dealership.”

Shaw says the dealership is using a scanner that contains the Helios underbody scan technology and the Artemis tire scan technology. He says the dealership plans to add the Atlas exterior scan technology.

Shaw says that when customers are informed they may need more repairs to their vehicles than originally expected and are shown the damage or wear and tear on the high-res scans, they do not question it.

“The customers trust the technology more than anybody in the stores,” he says. “This technology allows us to share information with a guest in a way we’ve never done before. It’s visual for the guest, with the technology telling them there’s a problem, and people trust it.”

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