There may come a time when you no longer watch a technician change your oil and check your fluids in a bay. Instead, your car may enter a tunnel and, much like an automatic car wash, receive all of these services by machine. Advances in technology are making it more likely all the time that you’ll see machines taking over basic automotive service tasks.
These changes are exciting, yet it may be a while before automotive advances in technology make it to the service department. There are several factors influencing the timeline of automated oil changes and other services performed by robotics:
Cost: Even if it’s possible to have a machine change your oil, that doesn’t mean it’s cost-effective. When you consider all the variations that can come with an oil change, it will be challenging to create robotics that have the ability to address items such as what it means when the oil comes out a strange color.
Machine learning: This is the ability of an automated tool to “learn” and increase knowledge as it collects more information. This is important as machines begin to take the place of technicians because they need to be able to assess a situation while relying on more than their initial operating rules.
Replacing technicians: When you imagine automated service bays, the scene may be dominated only by robots, but the reality will likely be more of a mix. One of the challenges for machine technology is making it safe for humans and machines to work alongside one another safely. One thing that advances in technology are demonstrating, too, is just how complex the human brain is.
A report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that between 30 and 50 percent of the work currently being done by humans could be performed by machines in the future, but don’t expect to see full factories or dealership service departments without a person in sight. It’s likely that there will always be technicians informing and guiding what the machines are doing.
The most probable areas to see these kinds of complete machine replacement of humans is in highly predictable settings, like factories and data collection. Any service technician will testify that repair work is often unpredictable.
Assisting technology: Much of the contribution that robotics will make to dealership service bays is in the heavy lifting and routine work of the department. A machine may change the oil and do a tire rotation without a technician’s involvement, freeing up the technician to complete more complicated repairs.
Advances in technology may make service technician’s jobs easier in the future. The current focus is getting those technologies cost-effective enough to warrant implementation at your dealership.