The machines are coming … to rotate your tires.
Robots have been building cars for some time, but Audi thinks they can also speed up the process of maintenance.
The Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) system provides a “virtual link” that connects dealers with technicians at Audi of America’s headquarters. The German carmaker claims this will allow said technicians to inspect and help service vehicles as if they were standing in the dealer’s garage.
ART is actually a variation of the VGo robots that have already deployed in a few workplaces and schools. Like those devices, ART is essentially a camera and monitor on a stick that can wheel itself around at the behest of a remote operator.
Mechanics may have trouble getting used to conversing with a mobile iPad, but until hologram technology is perfected, this is probably about as good as remote interfacing will get.
The ghosts in these rudimentary shells will be consultants from Audi Technical Assistance – which typically handles customer service issues – and regional Technical Field Managers.
The whole thing seems a bit gimmicky, although ART may prove useful in situations where a local dealer technician can’t diagnose a problem. Sometimes, showing is easier than telling.
Audi hopes to put ART in 100 dealerships across the U.S., but it will first test the concept with a pilot program at 18 dealers in 12 states.
So the next time you take your Audi for an oil change, don’t be surprised if you see a few robots scurrying around like droids on the Death Star.
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