“Nothing tracks damages like Car Scanner”
Car Scanner is a robot fitted with cameras and sensors that takes just 120 seconds to check a returned car for dents, scratches and other damage. New on the market, it may well transform the crucial process of checking cars for wear and tear.
As a teenager, Sławek Potasz wanted to get into the famous Polish National Film School in Lodz. Now, still in his twenties, Mr Potasz has transformed his love of the moving image into an innovation that could transform a crucial part of the automotive industry.
“I got the idea for Car Scanner when I returned my car at Tel Aviv airport. The guy who needed to check my car was on a lunch break, so I had to wait half an hour. When he returned, he took just two pictures – and I still almost missed my flight”, Mr Potasz laughs.
By that time, Mr Potasz’s company InMotion had already developed a couple of camera-based applications, including the Slider, turning smartphones into professional film cameras, offering face tracking, motion detection and other high-quality techniques to all types of video content creators. The Slider is already produced in Asia.
Another application uses infrared signals to turn car-mounted cameras into sensors – for example to detect traffic violations, register crashes or document abductions (a functionality popular in hijack-prone Mexico).
But it is with the Car Scanner that seems to have found a particularly promising niche. Checking the state of returning vehicles is of major importance to various players in the automotive space: not just rental companies, but also insurers, lease companies and remarketers, to name just a few professions.
Car Scanner offers them a cheap and simple manner to thoroughly document and automatically process the returning vehicles: “The device is fitted with three cameras, with a combined resolution of 24 megapixel; infrared lenses that are important for scratch detection; and a laser that measures the depth of dents”, Mr Potasz enumerates. “Plus LED lights, proximity sensors and magnetic sensors”.
The Car Scanner follows a magnetic strip laid out in about 10 minutes, in various sizes (depending on the size of the cars to be checked) and runs on caterpillar tracks – meaning it can run on uneven and dirty terrain without problems. Its full suite of detection devices makes for a very thorough picture – literally and figuratively – of the vehicle. Soon to be added is a functionality that will also offer a 360° picture of the interior and a car chassis scanner. “No one else tracks this”, says Mr Potasz.
Taking up to 250 pictures, the Car Scanner auto-generates a report that is uploaded to the cloud, via blockchain technology to eliminate potential fraud. “That report is fully embeddable in your company’s own reporting. It can even be sent to your smartphone”.
Car Scanner has been tested since April and is now commercially available. The first pre-orders have been made – 1,500 units to a company in Poland: “Every car will be scanned before and after servicing, to have a record of its current state and to avoid disagreements on which damage was caused when and by whom”.
There is a lot of interest in Car Scanner notably from large vehicle reselling companies. The mechanised, detailed report increases the credibility of the seller’s assertion regarding the state of the vehicle.
“We have a number of strong leads and are now looking for resellers and distributors across various markets. Our aim is to sell 10,000 units in the first year, but if the market demands it, we can crank up production to 15,000 units or more”.
Weighing about 9 kg and retailing at between €2000 and €2500 per unit with a pack of 500 detailed reports, the Car Scanner is extremely moveable. Setup requires just 10 minutes. Under normal circumstances, the device can scan up to 12 vehicles per hour, “but for a project at Heathrow, where we use two cameras, we’ve sped up the process to 30 seconds per car”.
The Car Scanner was presented for the first time in the UK at the Fleet Live Show in Birmingham (pictured) with the support of Polish Agency for Enterprise Development under the ‘expansion to international markets by promoting products and services of InMotion Labs company’ programme.