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Skoda’s app will look for car problems by diagnosing engine sound

Written by Nizam Shaikh

Skoda has developed a new ‘Sound Analyser’ app which is currently under trial at the After-Sales department of Skoda Auto and Skoda Auto Digilab across 245 Skoda Dealerships in 14 countries. The new app integrates Artificial Intelligence technology to precisely, reliably and promptly assess the condition of wearing parts and notify technicians of any required servicing.

The new Sound Analyser system enables the technicians to perform accurate diagnostics on a vehicle with ease using only a standard smartphone or tablet to use the app. The program uses vehicle-specific parameters and analyses the usage profile of the respective car. The Sound Analyser program is highly complex but its operation is intuitive and sounds made during the vehicle operation can also be recorded using the smartphone. 

The sound analyser system works by passing the recorded sounds through a set algorithm and then compares it with a database of sound patterns, producing the results. The software is already able to recognise ten patterns and is reported to have an accuracy of around 90%. The Sound Analyser can recognise sound patterns for components such as the steering system, the air conditioning compressor, and the clutches in the direct-shift gearbox (DSG) to name a few. 

In technical terms, the Sound Analyser system features a neural network algorithm through which the application first converts the audio file into a spectrogram that visually depicts the acoustic signals. This visual representation is then compared to stored baselines using artificial intelligence, to identify deviations. Using pre-determined patterns the application then categorises potential upcoming maintenance or repairs, based on these patterns. 

The smartphone app has been trialled in 14 countries – including Germany, Russia, Austria and France – since June 2019. 245 dealers are providing the audio recordings for the software’s ‘learning process’ as part of the pilot project. In addition, the vehicle’s online connection can be used to arrange an appointment directly with the responsible garage if necessary.