by Jacques Gordon
Audi is testing rolling robots that will be used to assist technicians working in dealership service shops. Called the Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART), it consists of a video camera, boroscope camera, video screen and audio equipment all mounted on a rolling pedestal about four feet tall. Through a Wi-Fi internet connection, a dealership technician can communicate in real time with a tech at the other end of the link at Audi of America in Herndon, VA.
“ART was designed with both Audi technicians and consumers in mind,” said Brian Stockton, General Manager, Technical Support, Audi of America. “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.”
Currently being tested at 18 dealerships, Audi of America says they’ll place ART units in 100 dealers across the U.S.
The tech in Virginia drives the robot around the shop and sees what the cameras see through a hand-held tablet. A video demonstration on the company’s website (http://tinyurl.com/kth8yng) shows the dealer tech communicating with the remote tech through the ART as they presumably work on a car together. Near the end of the video, the ART is seen motoring across a spotlessly-clean shop floor unescorted. Devices of this nature are being used successfully in classrooms and hospital operating rooms, but a busy workshop with cars moving around and maybe an air hose or two on the floor, and with flat rate technicians focused on efficiency, is a very different environment. I wonder if Audi has thought this through completely?
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