20 Jun 19

ProovStation sets new standards in automated inspection 

Get ready for vehicle inspections faster and more precise than ever before: “Our solution facilitates making strategic decisions, from quality control to fleet management,” says Anton Komyza, CFO of ProovStation. The award-winning startup’s product launch, this September, may change the inspection business forever. 

If you need to inspect small batches of vehicles for defects, you may be familiar with WeProov, a leading mobile inspection app that guides your mobile phone through a comprehensive inspection process. It’s a good solution for checking the condition of returning rentals – Hertz and Avis use WeProov, for example – or of vehicles about to start their remarketing journey. 

Big volumes
“So far, WeProov has processed 1,000,000 inspections, and has accumulated 25,000 users. But while it’s a success for its own market – small-batch inspections - we also found there was a demand for inspecting big volumes of vehicles in a more automated way,” says Mr Komyza (pictured inset). 

Such a solution would require a stationary inspection system rather than a mobile phone app. While that sounds like a logical extension of WeProov’s specialty, it in fact requires a quantum leap, in terms of hardware, technology and – last but not least – capital investment. 

Recognising the challenge, WeProov, based in Paris, partnered with Groupe Bernard, one of France’s leading vehicle distributors, to found ProovStation – an independent company with its own team, but benefiting from the experience of its founders.

Fleet management
“ProovStation’s value is not just a drive-through bay with an advanced AI software allowing the damage recognition, but the management platform that becomes a key decision-making tool for our clients,” says Mr Komyza. 

The aim is for ProovStation to be able to provide a full history of the vehicles inspected, a full report on damages, plus – uniquely - an estimate on the cost of damage repair, and on the resale value of the car. 

Such features could provide ProovStation with a crucial distinction from similar systems in development, such as Israel-based UVeye or other competitors in the UK and Germany.

Garbage in
But it all starts with the quality of the equipment. “There’s been a lot of capital invested in vehicle inspections throughout the automotive industry, but it’s never been consolidated. Using a mix of various systems leads to a partial analysis and suboptimal decisions, which becomes especially dangerous when your inputs are biased. Garbage in, garbage out,” says Mr Komyza.

ProovStation has partnered with military-grade hardware manufacturers. “We use more than 20 different types of cameras, three different image capturing techniques. Our station can do a 360° scan of an entire vehicle in three seconds – and that includes the undercarriage, for which we developed a special device which we call the ‘turtle’. In 15 to 45 seconds – depending on the speed of your uplink – you get a full vehicle report in your system.” 

Patented technology
ProovStation’s LED-based light arc can document scratches no wider than a hair’s breadth and dents or other defects not visible to the human eye. Its revolutionary technology, designed for this purpose, has been patented. 

Even though the equipment is currently finishing the beta-testing, ProovStation has already won several awards for its value-adding results. In April, it was a winner of the Automobile Club de France’s Prix Pionnier for automotive startups. 

“Every year, ACF is looking for innovative companies that work to solve problems in the market. Vehicle inspections are a particular pain point, as they are mostly still done manually. Which means they involve a lot of paperwork, are slow and expensive, and are subjective, and thus can be challenged.”

Real-life defects
ProovStation is already changing that, albeit only in beta-test mode, at three different locations. Firstly, by an OEM, whose name cannot be disclosed. But it’s up and running in-factory, and inspecting thousands of vehicles daily, as they come off the assembly line. Secondly, at Groupe Bernard’s car dealership, where it’s detecting real-life defects and inspecting multiple models and various cases of used cars. And thirdly at the R&D centre, where all kinds of scenarios are being tested in real conditions.

This summer, ProovStation has started private demonstrations of an operational inspection station in a car dealership near Lyon. In September, the system will be launched commercially. The first ones will become available from January 2020. Production capacity is currently at 50 units per month, which ensures a fast scaleup of the solution internationally next year already. 

US roadshow
Europe is the main focus, for now. But thanks to Ubimobility by Business France & BPI, another award, ProovStation is taking part in a US roadshow in 2019 as one of eight selected French companies. There will be a series of meetings in Detroit, where the automotive industry is based, and in San Francisco, the centre for the MaaS/AV industry. Should that lead to sufficient demand, ProovStation will consider setting up production in the States as well.

ProovStation’s high-quality damage recognition may revolutionise the vehicle inspection process – but perhaps not to everyone’s liking. What if returning vehicles, many of which now have defects that pass below the radar, can be routinely marked as ‘defective’, leading to users losing deposits or paying higher premiums? 

“We are not trying to impose new rules,” says Mr Komyza. ‘Both at WeProov and ProovStation, we provide companies with a significantly more advanced inspection standard and a management platform to improve the quality of their products and services. Ultimately, it’s their decision how to use the extra information and communicate with their clients and partners.”

Click here for a short video on ProovStation's capabilities.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs