A car gets into an accident. Not cool; but imagine how much easier what follows could become if you had an immediate estimate of the repair cost. Well, that’s exactly what Octo’s unique Damage Estimation Assistant delivers. But how? Telematics, with a little help from Isaac Newton.A car gets into an accident. Not cool; but imagine how much easier what follows could become if you had an immediate estimate of the repair cost. Well, that’s exactly what Octo’s unique Damage Estimation Assistant delivers. But how? Telematics, with a little help from Isaac Newton.
“After a car accident, any insurer has to generate a quote for the damage. It’s important to get this as soon as possible. But the process is complex, because the procedure can be different depending on the country, the value of the damage, and who caused the damage,” says Marco Amendolagine. As Director of Product Development at Octo Telematics, he can offer a solution – one that smartly leverages the technology of his own company.
The core of Octo’s Damage Estimation Assistant is its own telematics solution – either as the classic ‘black box’ or as a tag that connects to the user’s smartphone. In both cases, the essential component is the accelerometer, which provides information on the acceleration and the direction of the vehicle. Because an accident dramatically alters both the acceleration and direction of a vehicle.
“That’s where Newton’s Second Law of Motion comes into play. It’s a simple principle of physics: the force of the impact can be determined as the product of mass and acceleration,” says Mr. Amendolagine.
But pure physics provides only part of the puzzle. You also need intel on the car. That final piece comes from Euro NCAP, the European car safety assessment programme. “They have a large database of crash test data for all relevant vehicle models. This gives us information on the effect of a collision and the shape and seriousness of the deformation it causes.”
Octo’s Damage Estimation Assistant uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to match the physical data of the crash with the relevant info from the crash test database to produce an estimate of the damage in a matter of seconds. “That estimate today has an accuracy of 80%. That means: it’s exact in 80% of the cases, and will approximate the exact amount in the other 20%. What’s important, is that via machine learning, our estimate keeps getting better. For every 1,000 cases analysed, it improves by two percentage points.”
With current technology, the accuracy could get as high as 90%. In another paradigm – with better connection between OEM technology and aftermarket boxes – the accuracy could get as high as 97%, Mr Amendolagine says.
The Product Development Director stresses that the result of the Damage Estimation Assistant is not a quote, exactly: “The Assistant is connected to a huge catalogue of vehicle parts, and provides the price of the parts that need to be replaced, plus an estimate of the cost of labour needed to replace it. It remains the job of the human appraiser to take this information and proceed with it.”
Octo’s Damage Estimation Assistant is a truly unique product. It’s not the only system that generates damage estimates based on AI. “But it’s the only one that achieves this based solely on the telematics data. Other systems use external input, for example pictures of the damage.”
Of course, there is no reason not to use such extra input. In fact, Octo is working on integrating additional information from damage pictures. “That would add deep learning to our machine learning, and by crossing these two solutions, the accuracy and quality of our estimates will increase even more.”
The Damage Estimation Assistant is being soft-launched right now, with selected Octo customers field-testing the technology. The official launch will take place towards the end of the year. The enhanced product – integrating image data – will come onto the market in the second half of 2021.
“The Damage Estimation Assistant will be of huge significance to vehicle insurers – and basically to any business that has to evaluate vehicle damages on a regular basis,” says Mr. Amendolagine. “If you’re managing a fleet of short-term rental vehicles, or even long-term lease vehicles, you’ll benefit greatly from a system that alerts to you damages, and immediately provides you with an estimate of the cost.”
It’s a solution that will save its users a lot of time – not to mention quite a bit of money too…