Audi Equips Dealerships With Robotic Telepresence Mechanics | Edmunds

Audi Equips Dealerships With Robotic Telepresence Mechanics


Just the Facts:
  • Audi Robotic Telepresence will allow dealership technicians to consult virtually with experts at Audi of America on vehicle diagnosis and troubleshooting.
  • Audi says the robot — dubbed "ART" — is the first of its kind among automakers and expects it to boost service speed and accuracy.
  • Audi spokesman Bradley Stertz told Edmunds: "We expect our service customers to find it easier to book an immediate appointment as ART speeds the completion of repair jobs."

HERNDON, Virginia — Audi introduced a remote-controlled service robot that will allow dealership technicians to consult virtually with experts at Audi of America on vehicle diagnosis and troubleshooting.

Audi says the robot is the first of its kind among automakers and expects it to boost speed and accuracy when servicing such vehicles as the all-new 2015 Audi A3, as well as improving internal processes for communicating technical issues.

Rather than simply telephoning for help, the Audi Robotic Telepresence — dubbed "ART" — allows dealer personnel to establish a direct video and audio link to headquarters or regional consultants. The remote experts are then able to inspect the vehicle and provide advice as if they were standing in the service bay.

The virtual-presence device, developed by Audi in conjunction with robotics firm VGo Communications, looks something like a Segway scooter with a video screen mounted on top. The screen displays the remote operator's face as he or she maneuvers it around the vehicle, while an attached borescope and handheld camera give the operator a close-up view of hard-to-reach components.

Audi sees ART as a valuable innovation for both dealerships and consumers.

Said Brian Stockton, general manager, technical support, Audi of America, 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."

ART is currently being piloted in 18 dealerships and will soon be rolled out to an additional 82 locations.

Response from service personnel, Audi spokesman Bradley Stertz told Edmunds: "So far has been very positive, because the dealership technicians can quickly summon advice and support on an issue that could have taken a long period of time to have a technical expert assess from afar in the past. Now they can consult while the car is on the service bay with the factory technical expert ability to see what is happening immediately."

ART also allows dealerships to increase service capacity and speed up maintenance and repair work within their existing facilities, which benefits both dealers and customers.

As Stertz said: "We expect our service customers to find it easier to book an immediate appointment as ART speeds the completion of repair jobs that previously would have kept a service bay occupied for a longer period of time, causing backups."

Edmunds says: Open the service bay doors, Hal.

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