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AI to transform the bodywork industry

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By Chris Eldridge, managing director, Autoglass BodyRepair

In fields such as retail, technology has transformed the customer experience over the past decade. This is no different in the automotive sector.

While the media mainly focuses on driverless technology and how this will change the consumer’s relationship with cars, behind the scenes artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to dramatically change how some automotive brands interact and engage with their customers and fleet partners. 

Bodyshop work may not be the first thing you think of when discussing AI, however, I predict it will soon have a dramatic impact on the industry.

We recently introduced IBM Watson Visual Recognition Technology to assess car damage. This is a new cloud-based image technology, which allows the customer to take a photo of their car’s damage, upload it to the website and receive a quote instantaneously.

The AI technology is used to evaluate the car damage, based on previous images, and assess its severity.

Until recently, a team of three damage advisors examined photos that customers had sent in through a portal or via email.

The new AI technology means a quote is calculated 70% quicker than through the previous method. 

I truly believe this use of AI technology is only the tip of the iceberg.

As well as improving the customer journey, AI will soon be used to help technicians perform to the highest possible standards.

Already on trial are AI-supported augmented reality glasses for technicians to wear. It might sound like a science fiction film, but these glasses will allow technicians to review vehicle damage and receive guidance and feedback on how to fix the damage from a technical expert back at head office.

Therefore, wherever a technician is and whatever the damage is, the technician will have the information they need immediately to hand.

This will ensure the fleet vehicle is fixed and back on the road as quickly as possible, as there will never be a case of the technician having to refer to a colleague or technical expert.

As these technologies are fine-tuned and more widely introduced, their impact will continue to grow. I have seen the industry change dramatically over the years, but the speed of change is set to ramp up significantly.

Fleet managers and bodyshops who embrace this change will be best positioned to adapt and evolve in line with the industry. 

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