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Audi testing robots to help repair cars

The Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) remote-controlled diagnostic unit communicates with automaker’s expert technicians.

By Douglas Newcomb Jun 18, 2014 9:48AM

If you own an Audi, the next time you bring it to the dealer for repair you could have a robot recognize service issues with your vehicle. Audi is introducing what it calls a “first-of-its-kind communications robot to help Audi dealership technicians quickly diagnose and troubleshoot repair issues.”

Using two-way video, the remotely controlled Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) provides “a one-on-one virtual link” between technicians at U.S. dealerships and offsite Audi service experts. ART’s “telepresence” will let remote service experts virtually inspect and help diagnose vehicles issues “as if they were standing alongside the local dealer technicians.”

The face of the remote tech is shown on the robot's screen. This allows the offsite expert to “interact and converse with service technicians at local dealerships,” Audi said.

The wheeled robot moves around a vehicle accompanied by a human onsite tech. But only remote Technical Assistance consultants and regionally based Technical Field Managers will be allowed to operate the robots. The robots, made by New Hampshire-based VGo Communications, are starting to be used in hospitals and schools — for students who can't attend class due to an illness or for doctors to weigh in on medical diagnoses from far away.

An attached handheld camera and borescope handled by the local technician allows the remote tech to visually inspect a vehicle, including the difficult-to-reach parts. The robot connects to Wi-Fi to communicate with the remote techs, who can view info relayed by its camera on a computer or tablet.

“ART was designed with both Audi technicians and consumers in mind,” Brian Stockton, general manager of technical support for Audi of America, said in a statement. “The device will give local service technicians valuable one-on-one interaction with their counterparts at Audi of America, which will not only benefit the speed and depth of service at the dealer level, but create an improved ownership experience for the customer in general.”

Audi of America plans to have the robotic units in 100 dealers across the country. Currently it's being tested in a pilot program in 18 U.S. locations.

Audi Robotic Telepresence. Image by Audi.Video below (no sound):

[Source: Audi]

Jun 18, 2014 11:35AM
So basically what this article is telling you is that the service personnel at your local Audi dealership often don't know how to fix your car without consulting Audi. The fact that your local dealership is not qualified to fix your car is reason enough for me not to buy one. Not to mention it will most likely be at least $200 to ask the robot for help! Maybe Audi should just consider offering on going training for it's technicians?? Who wants someone working on their car that does not know what they are doing?
Jun 18, 2014 12:27PM
They'll be on "hold" for an hour and charge you for it.
Jun 20, 2014 6:05PM
I didn't do it boss, it was the skinny dude with the Intel Inside sticker..............
Jun 22, 2014 6:58AM
What a joke. All this thing will do is slow a good technician down. This is Audi's way of paying the dealer less for warranty repairs by hiring unskilled labor. 
Jun 20, 2014 6:20AM
This is for troubleshooting and assisting to diagnose the vehicle. This should help to get the car out of the shop quicker....who cares how or who fixes the car, as long as it helps to speed up the down time for the customer. In case you haven't heard, there is a shortage of dealership techs, so training someone who leaves shorty thereafter is not cost effective.  What makes your think this method will not help to teach the tech the repair. This method is also training. This is to help the customer and the tech to be more efficient.
Jun 22, 2014 5:49AM
Nothing robotic at all... It's like face timing alldata. Pin hole camera attachment on a tablet, done. Wasted engineering on an over complicated platform. 
Jun 22, 2014 7:41AM
As a automotive tech myself,  give me about 20 minutes and I will have that stupid thing charging my phone!!  All the money they spent on that thing they could have trained hundreds of people!  Its not just Audi its all dealers,  go to any dealer they might have one or to good technicians out of ten.  I have lived it.  After 22 years of working on cars the tech does not make the amount that the public thinks.   Its a very hard job with little reward.  Younger people don't want to do this job.  Back problems,  the chemicals we handle are awful,  long hours,  and for the most part our retirement plan is a pine box.  don't get me wrong I love helping people and fixing something no one else could fix is the best.  that's why I left the dealership and went to a mom and pop.  I could go home and sleep at night.  Find a good technician and stick with them it will pay off,  or go with the tech on a stick!!!
Jun 22, 2014 4:53AM
Audi, Audi...great technology and concept but so dang expensive!  I had a friend with an Audi that needed to pass the State of Missouri inspection for roadworthiness in order to put new plates on the vehicle.  The Audi service personnel had already made note to me that there was some play in  ball joints.  I took it to another garage for inspection and it passed the test with no problems.  Those $135.00/hour mechanics wanted to sell me ball joints and labor!
Jun 20, 2014 7:47AM
A "local dealer" trash my car, cost me another 9 hun-nerd dollars to have it re-fixed at a different shop, But, Robot Mechanics? Just how many more people are we going to put out of work and on the welfare line with machines?
Jun 22, 2014 8:04AM
maybe audi has robot consumers also ?  
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