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July 11, 2022—When it comes to artificial intelligence, the first thing that someone with an automotive background may think of is the concept of self-driving cars. It’s a gut reaction that makes sense, seeing as autonomous driving is a prevalent topic right now. 

However, even though it is making progress as a fully realized concept, completely autonomous vehicles are still years out of reach from being considered commonplace. So what relevance does the topic of artificial intelligence even have in the automotive aftermarket right now? Well, more than may meet the eye. 

Fyusion, a subsidiary of Cox Automotive, is utilizing AI technology for software solutions that bring a whole new perspective to the visual components of understanding and inspecting a vehicle. 

Stephen Miller was an original co-founder of Fyusion, and now works as Chief Product Officer under the Cox Automotive acquisition. He has a vast background in AI that is lending itself well to the automotive applications of Fyusion’s technology, and he wants those in the automotive industry to understand how much of an impact AI implementation can have that goes well beyond self-driving cars. 

“I think while those big visions are exciting, it is important for the field to understand that there's so many different applications of this that are not about fully automating things, but just making life better.” Miller says. 

Fyusion’s Lead Product Marketing Manager Nick Browe explains that Fyusion currently offers two AI-technology based products that are relevant to the automotive industry. Auto 3D is a 3D and 360 degree imaging solution, and Inspect 3D takes that 360 degree imaging element and applies AI technology that helps to understand a vehicle’s condition. 

“As well as, [we are] creating a next-level condition report that's going to help create more consistency and transparency in the automotive space,” Browe says “These two technologies are helping revolutionize what we're doing, not only as Fyusion, but what we're doing with Cox Automotive and Manheim specifically.”

Fyusion is able to achieve these offerings through a format called .fyuse, which compresses 3D imaging into something that is easier to both capture and share. 

“So someone walks around an object, or they take a selfie or…walk around a car with their phone camera,” Miller explains, “and they use that to build a 3D model that they can either visualize by putting it on a website or that they can run AI algorithms on to investigate.”

This imaging has a lot of purposes in the automotive world. Browe mentions that, for instance, this 360 imaging can help paint a more accurate picture for those looking to purchase vehicles online, which has become a much more popular option these days. 

But beyond that, Fyusion technology has a place in the repair world as well. The intention for implementing this technology is not to replace the human element entirely. Miller and Browe view it as an opportunity to provide additional support to the industry. 

“Our AI technology can help supplement those human elements and say, no matter what time of day…[or] what month, when you drive down the service lane and you're getting that 120 point 140 point inspection, there's gonna be a level of consistency and understanding of exactly what type of damages are gonna be caught on those vehicles,” Browe says.

As the automotive industry continues to navigate an influx of new technologies, staying up-to-date and educated on every innovation can be a challenging task. Having access to products from Fyusion could provide what Miller refers to as a “safety net” for the repair process. 

“When we build these tools for making it easier to identify and categorize damages, what we're really doing is making sure everyone is singing from the same hymnal.” Miller explains. “We're all speaking the same language about the condition of a vehicle.”

Miller sees Fyusion technologies as an opportunity to help shops increase productivity, especially as it relates to manual repair processes currently in place that could benefit from an upgrade. 

“It's automating the process to have trust and transparency, not automating it so fully that we are just relying on machines,” Miller says. 

Fyusion plans on continuing to make headway in the automotive world, and has made progress in doing so thanks in part to Cox Automotive acquiring the company in 2020. Cox Automotive, specifically Manheim, was the first automotive partner for Fyusion prior to the acquisition, so they already had an established relationship with one another before combining forces. 

Those who are interested in partnering with Fyusion can do so either through a pre-existing partnership with Cox Automotive or by reaching out to Fyusion directly. 

Overall , there may continue to be some hesitancy regarding AI across the automotive repair industry for a while longer, but the prevalence of the technology is not something that is going away. Miller recommends leaning into the idea when looking at the future of the automotive industry, as vehicle technology is proving to be something that many people buying cars are interested in.

“I feel much more comfort in having artificial intelligence come alongside people and help us. I love that safety net,” Miller says. “I love automatic braking … I like having it give me a noise when I'm about to back up into someone. These are things that I trust much more. So in the next five to 10 years, I think what consumers are really going to latch onto are things that help make their lives easier.”


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