Fixed Ops Journal - February 2018 - 30
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
Robert Bosch executive Kay Stepper
instructs Schoolcraft College students
at the supplier's automated vehicle lab
in suburban Detroit.
PHOTOS BY KEITH TOLMAN
FIXED ON THE FUTURE
Preparing techs to repair automated vehicles
poses training and pay hurdles for dealers
ALAN L. ADLER
s automated vehicles slowly populate
selected urban areas, the question
persists: Who will repair and maintain these robotic and technological marvels?
"It's not something that immediately comes
to mind when we think about all the research
and development that comes with automated
driving," says Kay Stepper, vice president of
driver assistance systems and automated
driving at Robert Bosch.
As a first mover in automated vehicle technology, Bosch is addressing a need that might
be five or 10 years from reaching critical mass.
But automakers, dealers, industry groups and
academics agree that a significant gap exists
in education and marketing of careers for automated vehicle service technicians.
For the past 18 months at Stepper's direction, Bosch has opened its automated vehicle
testing labs in Plymouth, Mich., to electronics
students from Schoolcraft College in nearby
Classroom learning, reinforced by hands-on
exposure to software and electrical integration of sensors in automated vehicle prototypes, is creating job opportunities beyond
those that require four-year and graduate degrees. Bosch has hired about 10 Schoolcraft
students with two-year associate degrees and
is continuing their education.
"It's a real issue, not just something the automated driving community is doing on the side
or for fun," Stepper told Fixed Ops Journal.
Fixed operations directors at franchised
dealerships express awareness, if not yet a
sense of urgency, about the need to develop
service techs who will work on automated vehicles. Each new model year brings more
technology to lower-priced vehicles, along
with increased fleet ownership.
"I don't think about it daily, but I do from a
long-term planning perspective," says Peter
Battle, general manager of the customer service division at Pat Milliken Ford in Redford,
Mike McLeod, collision director at Matick
Chevrolet and Matick Toyota, both in suburban Detroit, says he isn't too concerned yet
about an automated vehicle skills gap among
technicians. He cites the 11-year-old average
age of cars and light trucks on the road and
automated technology that remains to be developed.
"It's in the beginning stages and we want to
be proactive," McLeod says, "but it's going to
take quite a long time to cycle all these current
McLeod says a visit to Tempe, Ariz., where
the self-driving car project Waymo and the
ride-hailing provider Uber offer automated
see TRAINING, Page 31