Those crazy Germans and their overly complex solutions to everyday problems. Audi has announced that it is turning to robots to help speed up vehicle owners’ service visits at dealerships. The new Audi Robotic Teleprensence (they call it ART to be sentimental) is a communication robot that allows for a one-on-one virtual link.
Basically, an Audi service tech at another dealership somewhere in the United States can use the technology to navigate around the service department at your local dealer, look at a vehicle that needs to be serviced, and diagnose/troubleshoot whatever issues the car is having. This is now the chance for everyone who either is wildly jealous of anyone who owns an Audi or anyone who is a frustrated former owner to take a cheap shot at the brand.
The robot looks kind of like the one that Edward Snowden uses to tool around the ACLU’s offices in New York. That’s probably not the kind of association Audi was going for, but it’s true. The technician’s face is displayed on a large screen. There is a microphone that allows the remote employee to hear other technicians who are on-site as well as any sounds the car is making. A speaker allows the technician to communicate verbally. There is also a handheld camera and a borescope attached to the robot that allow the remote technician to inspect areas of the car that are hard to see otherwise.
All joking aside, the innovation could be quite useful. If one dealership’s service department is particularly overwhelmed one day, it could call in extra help from dealers across the nation. Also, if technicians are vexed by a difficult problem, they can call in expert help from elsewhere. This means Audi owners wait less time to get their vehicles back, and there is less guesswork in resolving complex and irregular issues.