The Future of Vehicle Inspections: Amazon’s AI Breakthrough

Amazon has introduced a state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology capable of detecting minute irregularities in delivery vans, such as tire deformities, undercarriage wear, and bent or distorted body components before they become on-road problems,

This cutting-edge system, known as Automated Vehicle Inspection (AVI), rapidly conducts a comprehensive vehicle scan within seconds, identifying and reporting any detected issues, keeping drivers safer on the road, and parcels to your doorstep quicker and more efficiently, reports MotorTransport.

How AVI Works

Amazon is launching the AVI technology in partnership with tech start-up UVeye in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the UK.

The AVI technology offers reassurance to fleet managers, replacing the former reliance on manual inspections conducted solely by human personnel during daily safety rounds.

Upon completing their routes, drivers will simply pass through an AVI archway, driving over a series of sensor-equipped plates fitted with cameras.

“When you go to the doctor, you expect to see a scan; we kind of do the same thing but for vehicles,” said Amir Hever, UVeye’s CEO.

With the vehicle rolling at 5 mph, the AI system performs a full-vehicle scan in a few seconds, identifies problems, classifies them based on severity, and immediately sends the results to a computer.

From there, a Delivery Service Partner (DSP) can determine the fixes and services they need to perform to have well-maintained vehicles on the road the next day.

“It can catch everything,” said Bennett Hart, owner of logistics company Hart Road. “And it’s essentially instantaneous.”

Originally designed for scanning the undersides of vehicles at borders and security checkpoints, this technology has evolved to leverage AI for detecting precise and subtle issues, including vehicle damage.

AVI relies on machine “stereovision,” meaning that it uses two vantage points to construct a full 3D image, and deep learning, a subset of machine learning that utilises layered neural networks to replicate human brain learning processes.

“We couldn’t simply pull this UVeye solution off the shelf and ask DSPs to start using it,” said Tom Chempananical, global fleet director at Amazon Logistics.

“Recognising the unique demands of the DSPs’ fleets of more than 100,000 delivery vans globally, we worked directly with UVeye to train the AI models and algorithms in Amazon’s rigorous standards for keeping the wheels turning safely.”

A Game-Changer for Fleet Maintenance

AVI’s implementation has already resulted in quicker, more precise, systematic, and impartial vehicle inspections, uncovering concealed patterns of damage.

A noteworthy discovery is that 35% of all problems are tire-related, encompassing sidewall tears, lodged debris, and embedded nails in treads – issues that were often overlooked in manual inspections.

Through AVI, DSPs receive timely alerts to replace tires before these issues escalate, thereby averting potential tire blowouts or flats on the road. This proactive approach enhances safety for both drivers and fellow road users while eliminating potential service delays for customers.

“The last thing I want is for something preventable to happen—like a tyre blowing out because we missed an imperceptible defect during our morning inspection,” said Mr Hart. “This technology improves the safety of our fleet.”

Enhanced safety for the approximately 280,000 drivers operating on behalf of DSPs like Hart Road, who play a pivotal role in delivering packages to Amazon customers worldwide, represents just one of the technology’s advantages.

Another benefit is that AVI’s advantages can scale, which is helpful since drivers engaged by DSPs deliver 20 million packages to Amazon customers worldwide every day.

“One exciting benefit of AVI is the totality of insights the technology gives fleet managers,” said Tom Chempananical, global fleet director at Amazon Logistics. “It can keep track of detected vehicle issues and see if they are repeatedly happening on particular routes.”

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, this technology holds the potential to extend its support to a wide array of delivery vehicles, spanning from bicycles to drones. Moreover, its capabilities may encompass inspections not only of the vehicle exteriors but also of their interiors.

“The potential for AVI applications is huge,” Mr Chempananical said. “It could also influence Amazon’s routing and geolocation technology for when repeated vehicle damage is reported happening in the same location.”

With AVI now a key part of his DSP toolkit, Mr Hart feels confident about getting his vehicles on the road and spending less time on inspection tasks, which can now be automated.

The technology has provided a pathway to grow his business, cutting down on fleet wear and tear over the long run, and it has provided peace of mind for the hands-on entrepreneur.

“There’s so much that goes into running a delivery business and properly caring for the vehicles, and manual inspections aren’t 100% accurate or objective,” said Hart.

“With AVI, I know I can spend more time with the drivers we engage.”