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Smartphone video to help RAC fix more vehicles remotely

The RAC is deploying smartphone video call technology to enable it to fix more vehicles without customers having to wait for a patrol.

Building on the organisation’s existing work to provide technical advice over the phone, the new RAC Remote Technician enables technical advisers to see problems faced by stranded motorists first-hand and help provide solutions.

The technology is put to use when RAC call handlers identify a breakdown that could potentially be fixed over the phone with the RAC member then being sent a web link via text message. Once clicked, this enables RAC technical advisers to see the vehicle via the customer’s smartphone. The member is then guided to point the camera to various locations around the vehicle so the adviser can assess the fault.

The technology has numerous applications, from letting technical advisers see a warning light on the dashboard to assessing tyre damage to see if a temporary plug is possible or whether a new tyre will be required. The member can also be directed to show the adviser the tyre size so the RAC can make arrangements for a mobile tyre fitter to attend or for a replacement to be fitted at the nearest tyre centre.

It is also possible for the adviser to draw on the screen to show the member precisely where to look on the vehicle, enabling more vehicles to be fixed. For example, when a car door will not close properly RAC Remote Technician can be used to show the customer what to do to free the catch.

If a vehicle can’t be fixed it is also possible for RAC technical advisers to assess the environment to determine what recovery resource to send, whether that’s a patrol equipped with the All-Wheels-Up recovery system or a larger, flatbed recovery vehicle.

RAC head of technical James Gibson said: “We have been fixing vehicles over the phone for many years, but the popularity and functionality of smartphones has given us the opportunity to fix even more issues without the need for customers having to wait for a patrol to attend simply because we can see the vehicle and the problem for ourselves.

“The more vehicles we can fix remotely, the better it is for everyone – the customer affected and our other members as it helps to speed up the time it takes for us to reach anyone in a breakdown situation.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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