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November 19, 2009



One could probably design an expert system* to diagnose and repair probably the top 98% of all problems, if they were, as Nathan said, designed so as to be robot-reparable. The capital cost of the system would be huge both in development and in actual installation, but I can imagine the automaker itself doing so and installing a few bays worth in every major city. However, manufacturer-associated repair shops have the least incentive to cheat, however, as the cars are under warranty and the manufacturer is likely to take a very dim view of a shop with many return repairs. Thus I'm unsure whether manufacturers would really do better even if they could get the buying public to go along with them.

Still, an interesting thought experiment.

*"Expert system" being a term of art referring to a certain kind of artificial intelligence generally designed to solve a problem that has been carefully narrowed so that relatively simple sets of rules can solve it.


Also, there may be some exaggeration here, but my conversations with mechanics tend to go like this:

Mechanic walks up to the car, wiping grease off his fingers with a rag. "Hey there, what seems to be the problem?"

Me, standing awkwardly next to my car. "Well, you see, the car isn't going as well as I think it's supposed to."

Mechanic, blinking. "How so?"

Me, searching for mechanical-sounding words. "Well, sometimes when it's supposed to go, it... doesn't. So, I was hoping you could make it go."

Mechanic, speaking slowly, as if to a developmentally-disabled child. "I see. Well, I'll take a look."


Hey, I've had exactly that same conversation, more than once. Is this one of the inevitable humiliations of being a post-Henry Ford human being?


My conversations too! And this conversation, in mechanicese, is means--I am an ignorant sucker who will pay for whatever you say the car needs!


Ironically, if I owned a HWMMV, I could converse quite intelligently on the problem, despite the fact that my experience with them leads me to believe they are powered by spirits who are sometimes obliging and sometimes extremely reluctant to acknowledge any pressure on the accelerator whatsoever. Apparently sand makes them implacably angry, because once driven for a long time in the desert they never seem to recover, no matter who looks at them.

As for my own car, well, I'm just hoping it never has a problem because under the hood it may as well be the space shuttle.

Joyless Moralist

This is why I always make my husband deal with car repairs. He doesn't have that much car experience, but he did used to help repair farm equipment for his dad's business, so he's not completely clueless. Light years ahead of me, anyway. I've been known to have difficulty with such advanced procedures as opening my own trunk.

We did once have a *good* experience with mechanics, though! We were on a weekend trip and the car started making a loud rattling noise and stalling. Not wanting to be stranded on our trip home, we took it to a mechanic. They spent close to an hour looking at it, then told us basically that the car would run just fine as long as we didn't use the air conditioning. Which we could get fixed when we got home. And since they hadn't actually done anything, they said there'd be no charge! They said, "We could charge you a $200 diagnostic fee, but since we didn't really fix anything we'd feel bad. So just take it home."

We thought that was mighty decent. To express our appreciation we went to a local supermarket and brought back some cold drinks and snacks for all the guys.

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It sounds kinda surreal, a robot can't do it ...

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It's wiser that you look up on the internet first before accepting the deal. Though I rely on quick cash advance (payday loan) for my bills, I think there are institutions which offer emergency loans for car repairs. It still depends, but it would be best if you're gonna choose those who will give you the money as quick as possible. I tried it before when I had to bring my Camry to a repair shop and I haven't received my payment from work yet.

- Sofia Britts

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This isn't something new because already robots are fixing and repairing cars, actually those robots are being used in different car companies, I think one day robots are gonna replace us completely.m10m

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Well, I think Robots were initially retained to perform precise welding chores and other repetitive tasks that humans had long found boring, monotonous and injurious.

Leisa Dreps

The cars we're using now are being assembled by robots that just do a certain purpose. Repairing a car requires logic and finesse, that would really require human intervention to be much more precise in doing the job.

San Francisco Car Service

I am sure that robots are being used to assemble cars in plants so I don't see why they wouldn't be able to fix cars. The average mechanic or garage will probably not be able to afford them or willing to invest the money though.

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Hello, i really like your post, but i have some doubts that i need to clear.

Buick St Peters

I would prefer a robot to fix my car. It's true that robot won't rip you off but wouldn't robots be controlled by their owners, which would be humans? So it would be essentially the same as getting your car fixed by a human.

Carson Ahlstrom

Of course, but not now. Give it a few years and you'll see one. I heard the Japanese are already building one. But robot mechanics can't simply replace humans. Human mechanics have instincts, moral judgment and the endless desire for perfection. Robots can only do what they're program to do. It's my opinion that robots can do the dangerous work but the delicate ones will have to stay in human hands.

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I believe that one day robots are going to replace humans.

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I really think that robots will one day repair cars on a large scale.

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As far my information robots are equipped with the capability of doing certain programmed things only and don't have rational thinking capability which is very much needed for repair jobs but they are being used every where for car manufacturing by programming them to do certain mindless jobs.

Immanuel Llorens

Hm, true, it's possible that robots would someday be used for repairing cars. These have the potential to make repairs and maintenance much easier. Still, as a car owner, one needs to know how his car works. That way, he would have an easier time keeping the automobile in good condition.

Flavia Casumpang

Robots are good for the menial labor, but in the end, humans also monitor these machines. AI is not pure intelligence. Though we may input all the data and information on car manufacturing, only humans have the gift of imagination and ingenuity that computers and machines lack.

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