Amazon partners with Israeli startup UVeye on AI inspections of delivery vans
Amazon has built an impressive delivery fleet spanning more than 100,000 vehicles, including 10,000 new electric vans from automaker Rivian. But as of today, the company is bringing even more technology to bear: Amazon announced it is partnering with UVeye, an Israeli startup, to automate inspections of its delivery vehicles using a new AI system originally developed to detect car bombs.
The partnership will encompass “hundreds of Amazon warehouses” in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the U.K., in which the companies will install UVeye’s automated, AI-powered vehicle scanning system, also known as the Automated Vehicle Inspection (AVI).
The companies have already rolled out and tested AVI at “select Amazon delivery stations in the U.S.” according to UVeye’s news announcement on its website.
The companies say AVI saves time and improves safety, detecting issues like nails in tires and other wear and tear and damage to the vehicles.
We can automate most of the inspection process at scale,” said Tom Chempananical, Global Fleet Director at Amazon Logistics, in a statement on UVEye’s website. “This reduces the time spent on inspections by DSPs and Delivery Associates, ensuring packages reach customers faster while improving road safety.”
Fleet owners are also cheering the move.
“The last thing I want is for something preventable to happen—like a tire blowing out because we missed an imperceptible defect during our morning inspection,” said Bennett Hart, an Amazon Delivery Service Partner (DSP) who owns the logistics company Hart Road, in a comment on Amazon’s website. “This technology improves the safety of our fleet.”
How the AVI system works
Amazon’s announcement post compared the UVEye AVI scanning system to when patients get scanned by MRI or CAT machines at their doctor.
Of course, the average motor vehicle is much larger than the average person, so UVeye has built its own 17-foot-tall archway filled with sensors that the vehicles drive underneath at a speed of 5 miles-per-hour. This device is known as Atlas and performs a 360-degree scan of the vehicle’s exterior.
In addition, UVeye is working with Amazon to provide its original Helios underbody scanner installed on the floor, which has cameras pointed upward to capture the undercarriage.
“The AI system provides a full-vehicle scan in a few seconds,” Amazon’s post claims.
UVeye’s software uses scanned images of the vehicle from different vantage point and stitches them together into a 3D model, which the companies claim can find “hidden damage patterns” and issues that human inspectors would miss, such as “sidewall tears” in tires.
Human inspectors can then view the 3D model and zoom in on different parts flagged by the AI system to inspect them virtually before going out to the vehicle to fix them.
UVeye’s unique origin story
UVeye, founded in 2016 when two brothers Amir and Ohad Hever, were driving into a secure facility in Israel and had their vehicle inspected by a guard using a mirror to look at the undercarriage.
As Amir told the publication Unite.AI a few months ago, the brothers immediately “understood there must be a better way to scan for bombs and other security threats that might be hiding under vehicles. It took us a few months to put together an underbody scanner that vehicles drive over and – using computer vision and deep learning algorithms – could detect any modification to the undercarriage and flag anything that shouldn’t be under a car.”
After earning positive coverage from VentureBeat at CES 2019, UVeye weathered the global disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now has facilities in New Jersey and Ohio as well. In addition to Amazon, the company has previously partnered with GM, Carmax, Hyundai, Volvo, and Toyota’s Tsusho division.
And, in addition to offering exterior scans, the company also offers a system called Apollo that can provide 360 scans of car interiors and record engine noises from a smartphone, designed for used car dealers.
The news of the Amazon partnership also provides a bright spot amid an extremely difficult time for Israeli AI and tech startups, many of whom have had employees called up by the military reserves in Israel’s ongoing fight with the terrorist group Hamas, which flared up following a major attack on Israeli civilians on October 7.