Audi is well aware that car maintenance and repairs can take a while, and that this often frustrates car owners. The German automaker sought to cut the waiting time for its customers, so it has developed cutting-edge technology designed not only to speed up repairs but also to improve service overall. This technology is ART, the newest assistant of some Audi dealership technicians in the United States.
ART stands for Audi Robotic Telepresence. It is a robot created to help technicians diagnose vehicle problems and perform repairs more efficiently. However, it does not assist technicians by doing actual repair or troubleshooting work.
As its name suggests, ART offers assistance through telepresence. It is a communications robot that gives Audi dealer technicians in different parts of the country to have a direct link to Audi of America’s expert technicians. ART enables local dealer mechanics to speak to and consult with the experts during inspection and repairs. The robot basically eliminates the physical distance and makes it seem like both parties are working together in the same place, therefore making service work more streamlined.
ART looks like a white stand, but it is no ordinary machine. It is equipped with wheels so that it can circle the vehicle and follow the dealer mechanic with ease. The robot comes with a screen, which shows the local technician the expert he or she is speaking to, as well as a microphone and speakers. Other features of ART are a handheld camera and a borescope, which comes in handy when inspecting engine parts and hard-to-reach vehicle components.
ART is remotely controlled by Audi’s Technical Assistance team and Technical Field Managers. A WiFi connection is necessary for a Technical Service consultant to communicate with the robot using either a computer or tablet.
Audi is currently testing ART through a pilot program involving 18 U.S. dealers, including three in California, two in Florida and two in Connecticut. The company hopes to have robots in 100 dealers across the country in the near future.
According to Brian Stockton, General Manager of Technical Support at Audi of America, the technology was developed for Audi technicians and customers alike. He noted that with dealer mechanics offering faster and better quality service, Audi customers would have better ownership experience.
Audi created ART through the partnership of its Technical Support team and VGo Communications, Inc. VGo specializes in robotic telepresence solutions and has provided systems for offices and healthcare organizations, among others.