Patent Issued for Paint blending determination (USPTO 11361426): Tractable Ltd.
Insurance Daily News
2022 JUN 01 (NewsRx) -- By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Insurance Daily News -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by NewsRx journalists, a patent by the inventors Aktas, Rusen (London, GB), Ayel, Mathieu (London, GB), Chatfield, Ken (London, GB), Decamp, Laurent (London, GB), Horstmann, Marcel (London, GB), Kirschner, Franziska (London, GB), Mattsson, Bjorn (London, GB), Oellrich, Janto (London, GB), Peyre, Julia (London, GB), Ranca, Razvan (London, GB), Teh, Yih Kai (London, GB), Trill, Shaun (London, GB), Van Oosterom, Crystal (London, GB), filed on April 1, 2021, was published online on June 14, 2022.
The assignee for this patent, patent number 11361426, is Tractable Ltd. (London, United Kingdom).
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: “Typically, and as shown in FIG. 1, when a vehicle is involved in an accident (or is damaged) 105, the vehicle or its driver will be insured, and the driver will contact the relevant insurance company 110 to make a claim following a typical claim procedure 100.
“The insurance company’s estimation team 135 will then need to assess the damage to the vehicle and approve any claim, and the driver or insurer will then arrange for the vehicle to be repaired 145. Alternatively, the insurance company may make a cash settlement 150 in place of arranging or paying for repairs or may make a decision that the vehicle is a total loss 140 and compensate the insured party accordingly or arrange for a replacement vehicle to be procured.
“As shown in FIG. 1, the claim procedure 100 following an accident 105 requires the driver or insured party to call their insurer 110, and personnel at the insurer will follow a script 115 to receive and process the claim.
“As part of the script 115, the insurer will obtain from the driver or insured party some information about the accident 105. Typically, the insurer will be provided with information about the insured person 120 (which may also include details of the vehicle and its condition etc that are provided during the call, or which are stored in the insurer’s database and retrieved following receipt of the details of the insured person); details of the crash or accident 125, for example the circumstances and extent of the damage; and photos of the damage 130.
“The photos of the damage 130 are typically taken by the driver or the insured party and can be of varying quality and comprehensiveness. Typically, photos are taken using phones equipped with cameras. Various problems can arise from this approach, including that too few photos are taken and provided to the insurer. Also, the photos taken may not be sufficiently well composed or may be of low quality due to the quality of the camera used to take the photos or the skill of the user.
“The photos of the damage 130 can be provided to the insurer either via e-mail, facsimile or post, for example. This means there is typically a delay in the receipt of the photos 130 by the insurer, thus delaying the processing of the claim by the insurer and slowing down the decision-making process as to whether the damage is a total loss 140, or whether a cash settlement 150 can be offered, or whether to arrange or allow the driver or insured part to arrange for repairs to the vehicle 145.
“As part of the claim procedure, and more specifically the claim review procedure which is carried out by the insurer to verify the costs of the proposed repair work by manually assessing data provided by the client and any proposed repairer, the insurer may request further information or claim data to be provided from the driver or insured party regarding the accident. This may include details of the vehicle and its condition prior to any damage etc. These are typically provided during a telephone call or are obtained having been stored in the insurer’s database, but sometimes requires the insurer to contact the insured party in a follow up telephone call, letter or e-mail requesting the further details. Further, the insurer will require sufficient details of the accident to be provided, along with sufficient photographs of the damage for example, so this must be obtained during the first and any subsequent contact with the insured party. The process of obtaining sufficient information can be slow, especially if further requests for information are made in separate subsequent contacts with the insured party, and thus can significantly delay the processing of an insurance claim. Further, the proposed repairer may be required to send details of the proposed repairs, including for example the labour tasks as well as any parts or materials costs, to the insurer for approval prior to commencing work. The insurer can then assess whether the claim is covered by the relevant policy under which the claim is made and determine whether the estimated costs of repair can be verified and/or approved as may be appropriate.
“Various tools and processes have been developed to assist vehicle repair businesses and vehicle insurers respectively to prepare and approve repair proposals for damaged vehicles, for example as a result of the vehicle being involved in an accident.
“Vehicle repair businesses need to be able to itemise both the labour required and the specific parts required in order to repair the vehicle, and then submit this for approval to an insurer where the repair is covered by an insurance policy. Due to the large number of different possible makes and models that might require repair, and the optional extras that might have been fitted to the vehicle to be repaired, vehicle repair businesses typically have to use a commercial database to identify the correct make, model, year of manufacture and options fitted in order to correctly identify the parts that would need to be ordered if any need replacement.
“Insurers typically require vehicle repair businesses to submit evidence of the damage to each vehicle and a detailed repair proposal that itemises the parts to be ordered and the respective costs of each part along with detailed itemisation of the labour tasks and time that will be required to carry out any repairs or replacement of parts. Preparing such detailed repair proposals manually typically takes vehicle repair businesses a significant amount of time.
“In different jurisdictions, different approaches are taken by both vehicle repair businesses (in respect of how repairs are carried out, what labour is deemed to be required, and preferences as to whether to repair or replace parts, for example) and insurers (in respect of what policies are applied when approving or rejecting proposed repairs, for example), so depending on a variety of factors such as commercial pressures, regulation, consumer preference and typical insurance coverage. Thus, detailed repair proposals will differ between jurisdictions and what insurers are prepared to approve in a detailed repair proposal will also differ between jurisdictions.
“Insurers, however, typically perform manual reviews on proposed repairs that are submitted for approval by vehicle repair businesses. As a result, the manual review process either requires a large workforce to perform the task of reviewing each submitted repair proposal or becomes a bottleneck in the repair approval process. For vehicle repair businesses, manual review can result in several disadvantages including delay in being able to begin repair work; further delays if the repair proposal is rejected by the insurer; and having to store customer vehicles for longer periods than necessary resulting in both higher storage space requirements and a higher probability of dissatisfied customers.
“Across all jurisdictions, a variety of the above-described problems can result from manual preparation of proposed vehicle repairs and manual review of the proposed vehicle repairs by insurers.
“Improvements to the claim procedure would enable repairs to be completed sooner and for insurers to reach decisions faster and more efficiently.”
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, NewsRx editors also obtained the inventors’ summary information for this patent: “Aspects and/or embodiments seek to provide a method and system to determine whether a part of a damaged vehicle requires paint blending.
“According to a first aspect, there is provided a computer-implemented method of determining paint blending requirements for a part of a damaged vehicle, comprising the steps of: receiving a photo of the part of the damaged vehicle; receiving a plurality of items of metadata, the items of metadata comprising: a score indicative of a repair or replace value for the part; one or more scores indicative of a damage value of one or more neighbouring parts; and one or more vehicle properties; determining a paint blending value for the part using a trained model having a plurality of sequential layers, wherein the photo of the part of the damaged vehicle is provided to the first of the plurality of sequential layers and each item of metadata is provided to one of the subsequent plurality of sequential layers; and outputting the determined paint blending value for the part.
“Using a learned model to determine paint blending requirements from a photo of a part and some metadata can allow for an assessment of the damage to a vehicle and for an estimate of repainting costs for both damaged parts that are repaired or replaced as well as undamaged parts neighbouring those repaired or replaced parts.
“Optionally, the one of more vehicle properties comprises any or any combination of: a value indicating a type of the vehicle; a number of doors of the vehicle; a value indicating a colour of the vehicle.
“In an embodiment, providing the learned model with metadata on various properties of the damaged vehicle can allow the learned model to more robustly output a determination of paint blending requirements for each part of the vehicle. The properties can include: the type of vehicle (e.g. whether the vehicle is a pick-up truck, car, van, etc); the number of doors the vehicle has (e.g. whether the vehicle has two, three or four doors); and/or the colour of the vehicle (e.g. whether the vehicle is white, or where there are specific colours to types of vehicle, more precise colours or colour metadata can be captured for example that the vehicle is a white van).”
The claims supplied by the inventors are:
“1. A computer-implemented method of determining paint blending requirements for a part of a damaged vehicle, comprising: receiving one or more images of the part of the damaged vehicle; receiving a plurality of items of metadata, the items of metadata comprising: a score indicative of a repair or replace value for the part; one or more scores indicative of a damage value of one or more neighbouring parts; and one or more vehicle properties; determining, using (i) a trained model, (ii) the one or more images of the part of the damaged vehicle and (iii) the plurality of items of metadata, a paint blending value for the part indicating whether a paint blending operation is to be performed with any of the one or more neighbouring parts, wherein the trained model corresponds to a region or the part of the damaged vehicle; and outputting the determined paint blending value for the part.
“2. The method of claim 1, wherein, when determining the paint blending value for the part using a trained model, each item of metadata is provided in a sequential order.
“3. The method of claim 1, wherein the trained model comprises a plurality of sequential layers, and the one or more images of the part of the damaged vehicle are provided to the first of the plurality of sequential layers and each item of metadata is provided to one of the subsequent plurality of sequential layers.
“4. The method of claim 1, wherein the one of more vehicle properties comprises any or any combination of: a value indicating a type of the vehicle; a number of doors of the vehicle; and/or a value indicating a color of the vehicle.
“5. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining a paint color for use in any paint blending operation represented by the determined paint blending value for the part.
“6. The method of claim 1, wherein a plurality of images of the part of the damaged vehicle are received and a plurality of paint blending values for the part are determined, the method further comprising: determining a pooled paint blending value for the part from the plurality of paint blending values for the part.
“7. The method of claim 1, wherein the trained model comprises any one or any combination of: a neural network; a convolutional neural network; and/or a recurrent neural network.
“8. The method of claim 1, wherein the score indicative of the repair or replace value for the part is a vector representing one or more quantitative values indicating the level of damage to the part.
“9. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more scores indicative of the damage value of one or more neighboring parts are each vectors representing one or more quantitative values indicating a level of damage to each neighboring part.
“10. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining a plurality of parts of the damaged vehicle that are represented in the plurality of images of the damaged vehicle comprising the use of a plurality of classifiers.
“11. The method of claim 10, wherein each one of the plurality of classifiers is operable to detect each of the parts of the damaged vehicle.
“12. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining the relevant images showing the part.
“13. The method of claim 1, wherein the part of the damaged vehicle comprises any or any combination of: normalized parts of the vehicle; normalized regions of the vehicle; normalized zones of the vehicle; standardized parts of the vehicle; standardized regions of the vehicle; standardized zones of the vehicle.
“14. A non-transitory computer-readable medium comprising computer-executable instructions which, when executed, perform the method of claim 1.”