carValoo GmbH

carValoo – the StartUp that is shaking up the industry

Güllü Beydilli

As part of thyssenkrupp Automotive Technology, the carValoo team knows more about digitalization in the automotive sector than almost anyone else. So it's no wonder that the startup carValoo, with its highly precise, automatic damage detection, has become a big name in the fleet industry in a very short time.

carValoo offers a cloud-based IoT solution that uses highly sensitive acceleration sensors to detect and communicate operationally relevant events such as damage, misuse and high wear and tear in real time. The condition of the vehicle can thus be viewed by the fleet manager at any time. This ensures increased safety and economic efficiency for vehicle fleets such as car sharing services, rental car companies, logistics service providers, etc.

carValoo - a child of the hour

carValoo's IoT solution comes at a time when the trend is moving away from owning a car and towards new, sustainable forms of mobility. In both urban and rural areas, people are becoming more environmentally conscious than ever before. Most journeys can be made on foot, by bike or by public transport. When it does have to be a car, more and more people are turning to new offerings such as car sharing, subscription models and flexible vehicle rentals. The Corona pandemic has also significantly increased the importance of delivery services with their own vehicle fleets. But many fleet operators face the same challenges: What is the actual condition of my vehicles and, if damage is found, who caused it? The precise inspection of each vehicle after each trip or rental is financially very costly and logistically almost impossible to implement in the case of car sharing, for example. In addition, many damages or wear and tear are not visible at first glance, for example, if they are located under the vehicle or on components such as shock absorbers. Due to frequent driver changes and infrequent damage checks, most damage is not reported by the driver.

Dr. Sophie Wei, CTO at the carValoo GmbH

In our conversation with her, Dr. Sophie Wei, CTO and co-founder of carValoo GmbH, told us what makes the project so special for her.

With a product solution that makes the condition of their vehicles more transparent and economical, providers of new forms of mobility can continue to grow, develop a better and denser infrastructure, and increase their availability to users - even outside urban hotspots. This is exactly the kind of solution that carValoo has developed.

From the black box to more transparency

Until now, objectively speaking, a vehicle was mostly a black box - both for users of the service and for the fleet operators themselves. How was the car handled beforehand? How will the next driver treat the vehicle? What damage is there? Should the vehicle go in for unscheduled maintenance? Is the car still safe? This lack of transparency not only leads to poor planning of inspections and maintenance, but also to high costs due to damage detected too late and inefficient maintenance cycles, which the fleet operator usually has to bear himself. In the worst case, the safety of drivers and passengers is endangered by undetected defects.

The carValoo team tackled precisely this problem. How can fleet vehicles be made more transparent, safer and more efficient? However, carValoo started with a completely different question:

carValoo, car sharing

Nico Schön (front) and Dr. Tom Althoff demonstrate the installation of the carValoo sensor boxes.

How it all began

"At CarValoo, together with my colleague Nico Schön, I pursued the idea virtually from the first minute: "What data is generated on a vehicle and its components that allows a statement about actual wear and tear?" We started from this very general idea. We tried a lot of things and were also on a completely different track at the beginning. We developed sensors that were attached directly to the component, so they would pick up motion, friction and vibration at each component. We quickly found out that this would be too complicated and too expensive. We quickly came up with the breakthrough idea that all you need for our project in a vehicle is a single sensor - an accelerometer. From there, we developed the entire product - the hardware and the cloud solution, as well as the artificial intelligence, which is the real core of our product," says Dr. Sophie Wei.

carValoo, car sharing

An intuitively designed interface makes the associated software from carValoo particularly user-friendly for both customers and owners of car-sharing fleets.

What started as an idea is now, three years later, an independent company: carValoo GmbH. "This is particularly exciting because a cloud-based IoT solution like carValoo is not one of thyssenkrupp's core technologies. Everyone else on the market developing similar solutions for fleet operators are companies with completely different backgrounds. That's why carValoo is something very special in the thyssenkrupp cosmos," emphasizes Dr. Wei.

carValoo - the "X-ray glasses" for cars

With the carValoo spin-off, however, thyssenkrupp is not only demonstrating innovative strength and pioneering spirit, but also offering customers very practical benefits and solutions for everyday requirements and problems:

carValoo, car sharing

1. detect damage when it happens

Fleet operators learn about the damage event at the moment it occurs and can take immediate action. Follow-up steps such as damage calculations, workshop visits or maintenance appointments can be initiated immediately. The damage can also be reliably reconstructed, assigned to the causer and any deductibles quickly clarified. On the other hand, a driver who has not discovered and reported previous damage can also be precisely excluded as the person responsible.

carValoo, car sharing

2. trust is good, transparency is better

Thanks to detailed analysis by the AI in carValoo, age and running time are no longer the only information on which fleet operators and subsequent buyers can base their decisions. The actual condition of the vehicle can be objectively evaluated at any time. carValoo is immune to negotiating skills or rhetoric - because an AI uses data and thus creates facts.

carValoo, car sharing

3. objectively determine residual value

"Of course, it's clear that a highway vehicle with 100,000 kilometers on the speedometer is better than a short-haul vehicle with the same mileage," says Nico Schön. "But until now, buyers didn't have an objective measurement tool for that. With carValoo, we're changing that." If a vehicle equipped with the carValoo solution has been consistently well treated, the seller can achieve a fair resale value. The buyer, in turn, knows exactly what he's getting.

carValoo, car sharing

4. accurate data instead of rough estimation

carValoo records the vehicle history. Accidents, jostling, extreme acceleration, unusually sharp braking maneuvers. All this can be registered. The collected damage events can be viewed at any time, as they can be accessed via the cloud regardless of location and viewed via browser using the carValoo WebApp. "Each event has a kind of motion fingerprint," Schön explains. The carValoo algorithm was trained according to the principle of machine learning and learns the movement pattern of a vehicle based on real measured values.

carValoo GmbH

5. quickly installed

carValoo itself offers various proprietary hardware solutions that can be retrofitted quickly and easily in any vehicle. "The goal we have set ourselves, however, is to be integrated into the vehicles ex works in the medium term, so that no additional hardware is required and the service can simply be switched on," says Dr. Tom Althoff.

carValoo, car sharing

6. carValoo values precision, quality and safety.

At the beginning of April 2021, carValoo GmbH and TÜV Rheinland signed an agreement to collaborate on digital claims services for fleet operators. The thyssenkrupp startup is thus setting a milestone for the claims management of the future. Based on the carValoo damage reports, TÜV Rheinland will be able to digitally check correlations, determine the amount of damage and offer further expert services if required within a very short time. All data collected by carValoo is transmitted in encrypted form to the company's own cloud environment with the highest security standards. All requirements of the European Data Protection Regulation (EU-DSGVO) are complied with. "As a matter of principle, we only process and analyze vehicle-related data, not personal data," the experts explain. "Our data processing focuses only on the brief moment before, during and after the damage event. The rest of the journey is irrelevant to us and is not considered further."

A pioneer StartUp with great potential

The advantages of carValoo have the potential to leave a lasting mark on the entire fleet world: Increased transparency improves the economic performance of vehicles and in this way paves the way for alternative mobility concepts. In the long term, fleet operators can use carValoo to increase their availability and reliability and make the switch from their own cars to sustainable services attractive to more and more people. carValoo: a pioneering product with great potential - as Dr. Sophie Wei also emphasizes: "With carValoo we are opening up a completely new market area and new customers for thyssenkrupp."