• ACV, the auto auction specialist, has been selling its Virtual Lift tools for three years, but the new update is well suited to our pandemic times.
  • Machine learning updates to Virtual Lift’s software enable automatic detection there are no catalytic converterswhich have been a popular target for thieves for the past few years.
  • Compared to 2019, catalytic converter thefts increased 4 times in 2020 and 13 times more in 2021.

Anyone concerned about buying a used car that has had its catalytic converter stolen could start by checking listings with pictures taken from under the car. One provider of simplified undercarriage images is ACV’s Virtual Lift hardware and software package, which has just updated its machine learning software so it can confirm if the catalytic converters are where they should be.

To use the virtual lift, someone drives the car over a small piece of proprietary hardware, which then creates a full-length, high-resolution image of the car’s underside. New detection algorithms in the software now check the image for transducers, and ACV claims the system has “extremely high accuracy”. The idea for car dealers is that they can quickly drive the car they are about to purchase through Virtual Lift and confirm that they will be getting a complete car and not one that requires expensive component replacements.

When Virtual Lift was introduced three years ago, before the pandemic, catalytic converters were not even mentioned in the announcement. At the time, Virtual Lift’s benefits were more general, offering “high-resolution undercarriage reconstructions” that took less than a minute. ACV said car dealers and sellers who used Virtual Lift would benefit from this transparency by offering a digital restoration to be downloaded via the ACV app and then shared with potential buyers.

ACV’s Virtual Lift technology is not new. ACV first introduced the undercarriage photography tool in 2019, but during the pandemic promoted Virtual Lift as a way for car buyers to make sure they were buying a car with a catalytic converter. This has been a major concern for the past few years. According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) study conducted in March 2021, the number of converter thefts per month in 2020 increased fourfold compared to 2019. And this trend continued in 2021, according to the latest data, when the number of catalytic converter thefts was 13 times higher than in 2019. Insurance company State Farm said catalytic converter thefts rose 293 percent in the year ending June 30, 2021. , compared to the 12-month period ended a year earlier.

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