Keeping an AI on Damage: Startup Automates Vehicle Condition Inspections

August 27, 2019 12:28 PM

By Scott Martin

Anyone familiar with a fender bender knows that the rigmarole of getting a damage estimate is ready for the wrecking yard.

A startup wants to change that.

Ravin is using AI to help automate the process of vehicle inspections and reduce headaches for car rental agencies, car dealers, insurers and all of these companies’ customers.

Based in Haifa, Israel, and London, Ravin applies computer vision and AI to vehicle damage detection and assessment. It has obvious applications such as rental car pickups and returns.

With its app, people can circle a vehicle to take a video and be done. AI does the rest: It calculates the cost of repairs based on the vehicle and damages it identifies.

Ravin co-founders Eliron Ekstein and Roman Sandler formed the company to harness AI to alleviate the problems of tracking damages for car rental businesses and dealerships.

The startup came about as a digital business unit spinout of oil giant Shell. Earlier this year, the founders secured $4 million in seed funding led by Pico Venture Partners and with participation from the Dutch energy giant.

Automated Inspections

Today’s advanced vehicle damage assessment can require a person to take photos up close from multiple angles and another person at an office to assess the damage from the pictures.

There’s an easier way, says Ekstein, the company’s CEO. “We ask the user to walk around the car with a mobile phone (running a video app), or drive through a set of CCTV cameras. We pick up the damages ourselves automatically, and we classify and estimate it for the insurer or fleet owner to make a decision,” he said.

Ravin’s app enables a quick video to be converted into dozens of images around a car and then run through its algorithms in AWS powered by NVIDIA GPUs for damage detection, he said.

The startup’s neural networks were trained on NVIDIA GPUs running in workstations. “We used hundreds of thousands of images to train the models,” said Sandler, the company’s CTO.

Rental Applications

For fleet operators, Ravin can set up fixed camera systems to capture photos of inbound vehicles, automating the process of damage assessments.

Rental company Avis has been using Ravin’s system at Heathrow Airport in London.

“They use it to inspect cars for damage when customers come back, which helps them charge only the right people for the right damage,” said Ekstein.

Ravin’s system can help fleet operators manage their risk on damaged vehicles as well as more quickly move cars to repairs for a faster turnaround to get them back in use, he said.

“We can shorten the lead time to repair and help understand the true cost to repair it,” said Ekstein.

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