The electric Mustang Mach-E due out by the end of 2020 is Ford’s most high-tech car to date, and the mechanics who will work on it will undergo a suitably futuristic training process. The company teamed up with Bosch to create a virtual reality-based training course to teach technicians how to keep the crossover in tip-top condition.
Instead of traveling to a workshop, mechanics will learn how the Mach-E’s electric powertrain is put together using an Oculus Quest headset programmed with instructions. Bosch and Ford placed a major focus on the high-voltage electrical system, which was developed specifically for the model and isn’t currently found in other cars. VR will teach technicians how to remove, diagnose, repair, and reinstall the lithium-ion battery pack, for example.
This approach saves time and money. It eliminates the need for mechanics to spend a few days in a training center that’s often nowhere near their home, and it saves Ford the cost of shipping Mach-Es around the nation.
“The virtual reality training solution is about new technology that builds efficiency. By improving the diagnostic process, technicians are able to perform maintenance and make repairs faster and more easily,” explained Geoff Mee, Bosch’s director of operations, in a statement. Viewed in that light, it’s not difficult to imagine other car-related use cases for this technology, and Bosch and Ford are already looking at ways to expand it in several directions.
Ford hasn’t ruled out applying VR to other training programs in the future; the Mach-E will inaugurate the software, but other models (including non-electric ones) could benefit from it as well, and Ford has plenty of new cars in the pipeline to work with. We’ll see the next-generation F-150 and the first Bronco in decades before the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, Bosch is experimenting with ways to turn the training course into a game. The company told Digital Trends it’s developing an extension of the software that would allow mechanics to minimize themselves and “move around like a data pack” to diagnose problems and repair them. They’d score points for completing tasks in a timely, efficient manner, which is certainly a more relaxing way to learn than being timed by a stopwatch-wielding manager.
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