Kinetic deploys robots to repair electric cars

Electric vehicle (EV) demand in the U.S. continues to rise, but the sales growth rate has slowed in 2024. This deceleration is partly due to high insurance and repair costs for tech-heavy new models. A 2024 J.D. Power study revealed that only 26% of U.S. car buyers are “very likely” to consider an EV purchase in the next year, while over 20% are “very unlikely” to do so.

Enter Kinetic Automation, a startup from Santa Ana, California, aiming to reduce EV ownership and repair costs by offering diagnostics and recalibration of high-tech vehicle systems. With around 40 full-time employees, Kinetic has developed a robotic system that utilizes computer vision and machine-learning software to swiftly diagnose digital system issues in modern vehicles.

Today’s EVs come equipped with advanced features such as touchscreens, infotainment software, cameras, and sensors for functions like rapid charging, collision avoidance, lane-keeping, and adaptive cruise control. While traditional collision repair shops can handle physical repairs, they often struggle with the complex digital aspects of these vehicles. Kinetic’s robotic systems and technicians assist these shops by fixing the intricate “digital” components of customers’ cars.

In practice, a car at Kinetic’s service bay is scanned by machine vision sensors to identify which systems need programming or recalibration. Kinetic’s software, integrated with the vehicle’s systems, then manages the necessary fixes. The company has established service hubs in Las Vegas and several California counties, with plans to expand nationwide. To support its growth, Kinetic raised $21 million in a Series B funding round led by Menlo Ventures, along with Allstate Strategic Ventures, Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, and others.

Photo credit: Kinetic Automation