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RoboTire announced that it’s installed and started operating its system at a Discount Tire in Fountain Hills, Arizona. The system can replace four tires on a passenger vehicle in less than 25 minutes.
At the Discount Tire, the RoboTire System will remove, lift and install tire and wheel assemblies. RoboTire hopes that its system will reduce technician injuries that can be caused by repetitive heavy lifting. The system will be overseen by Discount Tire’s technicians, who will also provide pressure monitoring and balancing services.
“At Discount Tire, our priority is to continually innovate on the services we offer to give the best possible experience to our customers,” Tom Williams, chief experience officer at Discount Tire, said. “We are excited to be the first to market in our space with RoboTire’s technology. With our Discount Tire expert people operating RoboTire systems, we will make the workplace safer and the experience easier as we hope to continue to reduce customer wait times and take care of more and more customers.”
The RoboTire System is designed to be easily integrated into existing tire shops. The company’s fourth generation system is at work in Discount Tire. The system uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, high-definition cameras and the company’s proprietary software to change tires.
“Discount Tire has been a proven leader in the tire and wheel industry for more than 60 years,” Victor Darolfi, founder and CEO of RoboTire, said. “We are excited to expand our partnership with them to enhance safety and efficiency in their stores and help increase the number of customers that can be serviced on any given day. RoboTire’s systems will drastically change how tire stores and service centers like Discount Tire approach changing tires, employee and vehicle safety, and customer satisfaction.”
Discount Tire is an investor in RoboTire, and participated in the company’s $7.5 million Series A round that closed in October 2021. Other investors included Automotive Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners and 640 Oxford Ventures.
RoboTire was founded in 2018, and is based in Detroit, Michigan. Its goal is to build and deploy robots that service vehicles faster and safer.
Alan Lezak says
Just another way to replace or supplement human labor, which reduces costs and puts more people out of work. Of course the technology is remarkable, but it puts dollars ahead what is best for workers. Sure wish we had strong union structure to balance corporate greed.
Steve Crowe says
Alan, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m not saying this is an apples-to-apples comparison, but I live in a small town with two mechanics. I recently switched from one to the other as the one I historically used barely answers their phone now. They’re too busy and can’t find enough people who want to work there. I don’t know the reason they can’t find workers – low pay, lack of skilled mechanics, both – but they’ve lost my business going forward. Perhaps if they had a technology or a tool, in this case a robotics system, to augment their workforce they wouldn’t have lost my business.
Michael Makovi says
You know what else replaces human labor and puts people out of work? Fertilizers and agricultural machinery. In the USA, it used to be that about 90% of all Americans were farmers. But fertilizers and mechanized equipment made their farm labor unnecessary.
Will d says
My best recommendation is Economics in one Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, automation improves our lives, reduces costs for all of us, leaving more money for people to satisfy other needs, which creates jobs in those industries. Installers might loose their jobs but they will find more productive jobs created by the savings from automation.
Actually getting reliable people to do tire work is not easy. It’s one of those jobs that a robot could do better and safer. Very few jobs will be lost, there will be less injuries and less workman’s comp claims.
It’s is most definitely to replace employees and I would do the same. Obviously you’ve never owned a business. Employees are the biggest pain in the arse to deal with. The continually declining work ethic is a major problem. Unions will not solve anything. As a matter of fact unions will only worsen the problem. At this point employees are still a companies biggest asset. They are also however a companies biggest liability.
Steve Summers says
Looks to me like the employees would love a tool that removed repetitive, heavy tasks and reduced injury.
David Hoffman says
Yes, this is an area that OSHA might possibly focus on in the future, heavy lifting repetitive task injuries.
How to destroy the work force 101. Won’t be surprised if it will strip studs and bolts. Won’t be able to install spacers or hub rings.
Sounds like half the workforce of tire changers now.
They can’t find people because people know they are being replaced. Your comment lacks all the wisdom of an adult. Time to reassess your life.
Anyone who thinks automation puts people out of work clearly hasn’t been paying attention to history. It often creates more opportunities, often without the back-breaking or mind-numbing aspects.
ATMs were going to put back tellers out of their jobs, yet there are more people than ever behind the counter or desk at a bank. They no longer do as much of the mundane tasks as cashing checks and counting bills, but have time to help customers with more lucrative financial products.
Instead of techs humping tires around, which, in most cases is menial work compared to their other automotive technician skills, they can go work on more stimulating diagnostic work…and make more money doing so.
Not buying your ATM example. My son’s girlfriend works at a bank (one of two tellers that has 5 stations that used to be filled with the additional people) and says half the day she sits around twittling her thumbs while there’s frequently a line up at the ATM. Automation takes jobs from one industry but adds to others, such as the manufacturing of the very devices that took the jobs in the first place. The plain and simple truth is, people need to learn new skills in this day and age, like what’s been happening for the last couple of hundred years. Not always easy, but a fact of life.
Considering they only sell tires and rims idk what more stimulating diagnostic work they will have….
“… robots that service vehicles faster…”
The video was sped up at the removing lug nut portion and cut/edited.
The company isn’t okay with humans taking their time to remove assemblies but it’s okay with robots taking their time to remove assemblies, probably because the robot doesn’t take home weekly checks.
25 minutes, they expect their workers to have a vehicle in and out of the bays in 15 minutes or less, interesting…
I like the idea that everything is done to precise measurements and done correctly. I don’t think the cost warrants replacing individual. Just say! How many tire changes does it take to offset the cost of the robot and it’s expensive to operate and you still have a tire technician assisting. You are only saving a few steps a tech can d vs the robot so the cost to operate and complete one tire exchange must be outrageous.
I’ve been a mechanic for 20 years. I work with alot of snowflakes who cringe at physical labor. I advise my colleagues to work out and stay in shape to lower the possibility of injury, instead of watching TikTok and playing video games. We still need to bend at the hip for hours to do engine work so this new technology doesn’t put a dent into fixing the daily hazards of a mechanic. What about the possible injuries of the guys who have to work on that tire changing machine? Looks pretty heavy!
Cool,But with 40 years in the automotive field, service and manufacturing.I would also see technology in indexing and road force identification on tire and wheel.Then a ID that the robot would set at 12 o’clock for proper drive dynamics.With EV this is a must .Most tire shops and service centers have very little knowledge of this important tool.
As someone who worked at Discount Tire for almost 3 years, and someone who works in a car factory now operating a robotic system, I can appreciate what this is trying to accomplish. While not a problem for me, and some other technicians, the hardest part of the job was lifting and maneuvering heavy tires and wheels all day long. So I can see how this will reduce stress and injury. Working in a vehicle production facility I see the transition to automation every day. Our facility is in the process of automating as much as possible, up to 85% in my specific building (paint shop). While some will lose their jobs, most people will be retained if possible to operate these systems, providing a substantial pay raise for those that make it.
Going back to this system specifically, I do see some issues. The system might work all well and good on a near new vehicle with perfect lug nuts and and studs and hubs, but anyone who actually works in this industry knows that lug nuts swell up and don’t fit in the sockets properly, lug studs get corrosion on them and damage from cross threading and thread stretching, and hubs get corrosion build up that can lead to the wheel not sitting properly. Now I do expect these guys to know that and to have some sort of solution to this, like maybe only using this system for vehicles that are near new. And I assume the technician will be involved in the process for hub cleaning and fixing any problems or faults the system finds.
The main problem I see though is in their main message, that this will allow Discount Tire to service more customers. Now I’m assuming that the system in the demo video wasn’t running at full speed, but there’s no way this system can work as fast as the technicians. Especially at Discount Tire. Those guys are crazy fast and it’s sort of a sense of pride how fast they can work. There’s no way this will speed up service time. What it will (hopefully) do is provide a consistent standard of work that’s repeatable on every vehicle. I think they should incorporate that into their message instead of promising the ability to service more customers. Just my two cents…
OK sure, it can replace 4 tires in 25 minutes. So how many workers does it replace? Technology is cool, until you don’t make enough money to use it.
There’s probably going to be a mom’s and pop’s garage that will still be around that is going to practice the old fashioned way of changing tires and I’m sure they would appreciate the Manuel laborer employee’s working for them just like back in the 50’s, you pull up to the pump and the garage attendant comes out and tilts is cap and says howdy and starts filling up your tank and checks the oil in your motor! Now that’s appreciation the good ol American way
Come to Michigan with that crap. Swelled lugnuts, wheels corroded to the hub,
Discount tire only changes tires and wheels. Considering that’s what this robot does it kinda does take away their jobs. The only think it leaves the technicians with is 1. Fixing the problems the robot causes (improper car lifting, stripped bolts, nuts, etc.). 2. Performing tasks that the robot can’t (adding hub centric rings). The above problems happen rarely and only need a few workers. Have you gone to stores that have invested heavily in self checkout? I remember when those stores had at least 5 cashier’s, nowadays I’m happy when they have 1 non-selfcheck lane open. Automation does take away the number of jobs
We no longer have auto techs, we have parts replacers.. we no longer have machinists, we have button pushers. Drivers are almost a thing of the past with autonomous abilities… Cashier’s are now computers. Waiters/ waitresses are now robots.. we are losing skill, while being fed the lie that we are smarter than ever…
Over 3 million laws makes everyone a criminal.
People need to stop working for corporations and start working for themselves. Old school skills are in demand. But they are not teaching them in schools. Schools teach you how to be a good tax slave. How to be a good armchair pro, with your McDonald’s happy meal degree.. Obedient to government, obedient to corporations.
They’re stealing our land, they’re stealing our property, they’re stealing our energy..
When will people wake up? Not in my lifetime, sadly..
Deaf, blind , dumb and born to serve…
300 million tv brainwashed tax slaves love thier mental governance. Back to work, tax slave… Back to work!
Will it over torque my lug nuts with an impact driver just like the tire shop employees?
Robert scott luthy says
This kind of robotics will eventually put millions of human beings out of work. I really hope we do not see a dystopian world but we as humans are headed in that direction. Robots are quicker and more efficient as opposed to people. Greed plays a huge role in my opinion.
James R Whitlock says
Twenty five minutes is slow, I can change my own car tires with a floor jack much quicker. This is a big mistake for mankind, we do not need robots.
Being a technician for 50 yrs, I would have loved having a robot do all my heavy lifting. I am now 67 and I have so much arthritis in my back, I can’t bend my back anymore. I worked on semi tractors and trailers for 15 yrs. Now that is hard work.
Discount tire does no diagnostic work they don’t even do alignments all they do is tires period so your statement has no relevance
Pedro R says
This happens as more and more complaining that they don’t get paid what they THINK they should get paid, not what the person experience or the job they are working.. ie, minimum wage jobs, entry level.. aren’t meant to be a career.. Gain experience, move on, get better paid positions. Hell, does Wal-Mart even have people at checkouts anymore?
Customers of this service benefit immensely from consistency, time savings, and savings. I would estimate the labor reduction being discussed would be better used in areas such as customer service, scheduling, sales, and higher value work supporting the business model.
How long will it take and save manpower to pay for that 1 million dollar machine? Saving money?
45 yrs career exp. and can barely pick up most assemblies any more.
Permanent back damage that will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The tool may be over kill. But I wish to never lift another…
Throw in a wheel lock and the robot will self district trying to find the key.
Trust me, this coming from auto dealership and manufacturing background.
Three reasons this won’t work:
1: Cost to start up and maintain.
2: When they find out how unreliable these robots really are with consistent faulting due to high weather temperatures. 3: The day one of these robots need to be reprogram is gonna be too late when they see these robots drop $600 Toyota Highlander OEM rim and it cracks.
BTW that Hunter mounting machine that is used has been around since 2015 and it cracked so many last generation Highlander rims (the ones with plastic chrome cover) that auto groups were forcing Hunter to replace every single one before they realized it was their equipment design issue.
Ronald Ortega says
I DON”T LIKE IT !
Hans Hellenberg says
Not to mention in a real service center environment, all of the other things that should be checked to ensure the safety of the vehicle when it leaves the shop. Wheel bearings, brakes, struts assemblies, steering systems, control arms and a multitude of other items are inspected for wear. What about alignment so those new tires do not wear out prematurely? There is along way to go before this type of robot can replace a human in the auto repair industry.
The two key questions that I would like to ask are this firstly how does it cope with a vehicle that is equipped with locking wheel nuts and secondly how would it cope with a vehicle that uses bolts as the wheel fixing as opposed to the nut and stud arrangement shown in the demonstration video?