• A Tel Aviv, Israel, startup created bomb-detection technology based on artificial intelligence but quickly realized the system’s value to inspect cars for defects and problems.
  • The UVeye system can fully inspect a moving car in four seconds and can spot defects less than a tenth of an inch in size.
  • Companies including Daimler, Škoda, Toyota, and Volvo are working with UVeye to take advantage of its full-vehicle, underbody, and tire inspection systems, the company says.

    Intelligent machines may not be driving us to the movies yet. But a small Israeli company called UVeye has created a smart-machine inspection service that should help end those nasty damage arguments at the rental-car return counter.

    “It started out as a smuggling and bomb-detection inspection system,” explains CEO Amir Hever. Then it leapt over to the auto industry. Hever tells us that his artificial-intelligence-based system can fully inspect a moving car in three to four seconds for any kind of fluid leak and for dents or defects as small as 0.08 inch. That’s very significantly faster than a human can inspect a vehicle. So carmakers, fleet operators, suppliers, auto dealers, insurance companies, and rental and lease companies should be very interested in the two-year-old company’s technology.

    UVeye

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    UVeye

    Hever says he is currently working with Daimler, Toyota, Volvo, the VW Group’s Škoda, and another, undisclosed automaker to develop systems for assembly lines, shipping areas, and dealerships. The company claims it has raised $35 million in investment capital since 2017 and will be making the rounds of tech events such as World Summit AI in Amsterdam in early October and CES in Las Vegas next January.

    The relatively small company, with about 100 employees, offers three systems that can be used separately or together: Artemis (tires), Atlas (360-degree body), and Helios (underbody). They were originally developed as a comprehensive security system. Interestingly, the system’s high-res ability was initially considered a problem. UVeye discovered so many false positives because of the accuracy of the technology’s cameras, sensors, and intelligence systems that it became clear they could be used as a high-speed quality-control inspection system on a vehicle’s tires, upper body, and underbody. For example, the camera inspects the sidewall’s shape for tire pressure and can detect dried-out tire rubber or excessive tread wear. With custom software overlays, the system can also do predictive maintenance to stay ahead of issues or discover early part failures.

    Beyond the 20 cameras, which fire at up to 200 frames per second, other sensors can check fluid levels and even the (correct, healthy) sound signature of the vehicle. Hever would not disclose what the other sensors were or how they work. But obviously, the system is auditory as well as visual and is just at the beginning of its development, despite existing agreements with some carmakers. UVeye has already built up a significant database with individual tweaks for makers that wanted to include specific areas of inspection and specification windows for, say, body cutline gaps and ride height.

    The new system also leans on super-powerful lighting, cloud architecture, deep learning, sensor fusion, high-speed data processing, and some proprietary technology to closely eyeball a vehicle. The company’s drive-through (up to 30 mph) systems can detect external and mechanical flaws and identify anomalies, modifications, or foreign objects.

    As this young company expands from its current locations in Israel and Connecticut to Europe and the Asia Pacific region, its rollout of better ways to inspect vehicles will be worth watching.

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