Audi testing robots to help repair cars
The Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) remote-controlled diagnostic unit communicates with automaker’s expert technicians.
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.
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