Everyone knows about self-driving cars that use cutting-edge machine intelligence to navigate. But robots might have another important role to play in future cars: Changing our tires. According to a recent report, a new Y Combinator startup called RoboTire, currently in semi-stealth mode, is building robots that can change car tires in a fraction of the time it currently takes human mechanics.
“We can do a set of four tires, put in to pull out, in 10 minutes,” RoboTire CEO Victor Darolfi told TechCrunch. “It normally takes about 60 minutes for a human operator to do a set of four. Some can go faster, but they really can’t do that eight hours a day.”
A description of RoboTire on LinkedIn describes its mission as “automating vehicle maintenance for today and future autonomous vehicles with robot and software, starting with tire changing in which we can do a set of four tires in 10 minutes from pull-in to pull-out.”
To fulfill its ambitious engineering mission, RoboTire has reportedly teamed up with the robotics division of Mitsubishi to create a robot arm system that could be installed by service centers, dealers, and assorted other automotive outlets. It reportedly costs around $250,000 at the moment, with plans to charge $5 to $7 per changed tire when the company begins testing out the robot solution in the real world. This will likely increase to $10 to $15 when the final product is ready to go. RoboTire thinks its robot will generate around $10,000 per month, which would earn back the cost of a $250,000 unit in just over two years. It has been in discussions with “a number of high-profile companies” to install the robot at various auto repair shops.
Right now, there’s no more additional information available. RoboTire’s website contains no extra information, only the ability to sign up for email updates when they’re available.
The biggest question we have? Does RoboTire have any plans to create a smaller miniature version of its tire-change robot we could store in our cars in case of a particularly nasty flat? Because that would totally be a sight to see at the side on the shoulder of a highway.
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