The Road to Autonomous Driving
"... technologies that will drive innovation and change mobility behavior. "
The mobility behavior could be shifting fast. We could be 2-3 years away from Waymo selling automated cars with Lidar stacks for the tune of $40k.
Equipping the folks here with the data to service those things, this is a high order.
The second a viable iteration is found I would think a company like Uber, Lift, Ford, BMW or some completely new company will take advantage and order/build a fleet. This could flip the industry on its head very quickly. People don't have to buy into it they simply have to stop driving and use the service. The cost barrier is going to fall on a provider not the average consumer. Then with out the cost of employee's (drivers) and the high probability that these vehicles will be hybrid or fully electric, this service will quickly become the more economical means of transportation.
It's getting more interesting by the day Matt. Still, as is usually the situation, those who embrace new technologies and are willing and able to invest in the learning curve through training and tooling, will rise up to successfully tackle and overcome some of the new diagnostic challenges.
I predict that diagnosis of increasingly more complex systems will be significantly more dependent than ever before on utilization of scan data, DTC and symptom-based diagnostic pathways. Improved levels of reading and comprehension will be necessary and there will be less practice of just "grabbing a schematic" and figuring it out, in the absence of in-depth service and diagnostic information.
Those have not chosen to or been unable to so far keep in tune with technology, will simply fall still further behind the curve to serve a diminishing role to the point of eventual attrition from the field once it is no longer economically viable. There will simply become a point in time where there will be such reduced maintenance and service opportunities that such shops can currently handle with minimal tooling, that there will be too few "scraps" left ripe for the picking to "eke out a living".
Thanks for sharing this info Matt. It's interesting information and yet another alarm bell sounding off to the fact that the next couple of decades will be really interesting and challenging for independents. We've been in business over 40 years and have survived many changes in technology but nothing like this. The key has always been to invest in training and technology to be in the game.
The question I always like to ask when talking about autonomous driving is where do you think the independent shop fits into all this?
The independent shop is a critical component to the serviceability of these vehicles. Too many cars for manufacturers to service on their own.
Nick. I' predict that as has typically been the situation, many of the issues that we were faced with and addressed when vehicles were under warranty at the dealership, rarely or never resurface during the life of the vehicle once repaired correctly.
Likewise, age related component and connection failures and other influencing factors such as accident damage repairs, will probably contrast with and define some different diagnosis and repair requirements to those faced by most dealership technicians.
Whatever the situation, without sufficient information, tooling and skills it could be quite a challenge and take some time to overcome. Several independent trainers carved out a profitable niche market providing hybrid training for the masses.
However, I believe that it would take a rather more concerted effort to amass a wider range of information, case studies and training aids in order to encourage the masses into being service ready for some of these systems.
There is already a wide variety of systems and technologies crossing the dealership thresholds and the technology advancements have been rapid enough that desired and needed training in dealerships now more often focuses more heavily on electrical/electronics and networked vehicle technologies, over the traditional "nuts 'n' bolts" courses of the past, which have a mostly mechanical focus.
To put this into perspective, in November I completed five days of instructor-led infotainment and connected vehicle systems training and certification course content, while I recently completed an 8 speed Automatic Transmission course in the Virtual Classroom Training format.
This week I was scheduled for a three day Virtual Classroom Training course on Automatic Transmission Diagnosis and Service, which was cancelled due to technical issues with the delivery platform.
While handling mechanical assembly components has been commonplace in training of the past, there are definite benefits in the hands-on learning environment when working on these technology rich electronic vehicle driver aid systems at the intrusive level.