(Trail Times file photo)

AI helping technicians diagnose problems

Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician in Trail

AI or Artificial Intelligence is a buzzword of our times. Your current automotive technician will be very involved in the development of AI for your vehicle’s diagnostics. All the vehicle manufacturers have some level of AI built into their diagnostic processes. Your technician is in many situations using your manufacturers most current AI system to diagnose what ails your vehicle.

The repair procedures are available from all the manufacturers. Examples of these repair procedures are how to replace your water pump (yeah, even your electric vehicle still has a water pump) or the diagnostic procedure of how to diagnose a faulty oxygen sensor. What we used to buy in a reference book is now available online.

In many cases the format of diagnostic procedures is the trouble tree. If this is true, then do that, else do the other. I think you might know what I mean. These are the lowest level AI systems. They assume we, the technician, know nothing about the system we are fixing. The problem with using that type of system is that there is typically no explanation of what exactly the thought process is. Many times the process requires a lot more dis-assembly of the vehicle to perform each successive test. It may also not even take into account the most likely scenario first.

The next most common form of AI used by manufacturers involves software combined into or with a tool that interfaces with the vehicle network. The computer and software part of the tool scans the network of the vehicle for information. From the information gleaned a guided series of tests are provided to find the fault. Again these systems hide the thought processes.

The future AI systems will see data collected from the network of the vehicle (even when the vehicle is being driven) sent to the cloud for processing and narrowing down or performing an exact diagnosis of the fault.

Thankfully tool manufacturers and information service providers create their own platforms to provide additional options to supplement your technicians arsenal of diagnostic tools. Relying only on what the manufacturer provides would be a great disservice to the customer.

Independent service information providers collect data from technicians about common symptoms and their diagnosis and repairs. When a vehicle comes in for diagnosis eliminating or chasing the most likely fault may make a lot more sense than starting at the very top of the trouble tree.

The demand for this data and the providers of this data are automotive technicians.

Independent tool manufacturers make tools that shorten or simplify a diagnostic process. They do this by invasively performing tests that can mean that instead of performing a surgery to inspect a possibly faulty part, a “cat scan” can provide a definitive answer.

The demand for these tools is fed by the technicians diagnosing the problems with your vehicles. His/her demand for tools and information to put into the diagnostic process is the future of AI. It also results in more correct cost effective diagnostics for you, the customer.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net

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