Autonomous robot cars may be grabbing headlines, but their mechanical counterparts are not far behind. Meet RoboTire, a cutting-edge technology that has the potential to revolutionize tire changing. This innovative system can replace all four tires on a vehicle two to three times faster than a human mechanic, marking a significant leap in efficiency. While the process currently requires human assistance, RoboTire’s ultimate goal is to achieve full autonomy.

When a vehicle pulls onto the platform, RoboTire’s artificial intelligence-driven machine vision system goes into action. It swiftly identifies the wheels, locates the lugs, and guides the robot arms to unscrew and remove the nuts or lug bolts, subsequently removing the wheels and tires. The system then seamlessly transfers them to a Hunter tire-changing machine, sharing information about tire size and type for a smooth tire swap. During this process, a human technician facilitates the transition between the two systems, loads the new tire into the changer, and monitors the operation.

According to Victor Darolfi, the founder and CEO of RoboTire, the entire process can be completed in just 23 minutes, with ongoing improvements as the AI-powered machine continues to learn and refine its operations. “It’s mainly training our machine vision system. Every motion is guided by this,” Darolfi explains.

RoboTire has already amassed a vast database containing information on various vehicle types, wheel sizes, and bolt patterns, enabling it to adapt to new configurations. The system continuously updates its models in real-time, ensuring that the robot can handle novel scenarios seamlessly. “Someone can come in with a new rim combination that the robot hasn’t seen yet, but since we’re constantly retraining our models on the fly, that allows the robot to continue and not get hung up,” says Darolfi. The company employs a collaborative approach, with knowledge sharing among its four stores, enabling each location to benefit from new learnings and insights.

RoboTire’s capabilities extend beyond perfect conditions. Even when faced with challenging situations like mud on the tire or snow packed into the wheel well, the system relies on its machine vision to identify the lug nut’s position. “It’s like seeing through the woods. The AI helps us see the woods, and the machine vision allows us to identify the tree,” Darolfi adds.

While RoboTire has not disclosed specific pricing details, the company offers an all-inclusive “robot as a service” subscription, with rates that account for local salaries. By providing this comprehensive solution, RoboTire aims to transform automotive maintenance and elevate the efficiency of tire changing in the industry. With ongoing advancements and aspirations for full autonomy, RoboTire is poised to redefine the way we handle this essential aspect of vehicle maintenance.

By Impact Lab