Next time you take your Audi back to the dealership for some repair, you might want to just have a cup of coffee and wait. With exceptional speed all could be taken care of, thanks to help from the robot working with the mechanic.
That's right. Audi is building a fleet of rolling robots that will allow technicians at its headquarters to remotely supervise mechanics at dealerships. It may be a great way to improve customer service, a testament to just how complicated upscale German cars are to repair, or just an overbearing way to play nanny.
The Audi Robotic Telepresence robot, (they call him 'Art'), created by robotics firm Vgo, is a mobile, remotely controlled ‘bot equipped with cameras and a screen to let technicians at Audi of America HQ in Herndon, Virginia, chat with mechanics in dealerships around the country.
The remote technician uses a computer or tablet to drive the robot around the service bay, directing the camera and borescope and using a speakerphone to help diagnose and repair difficult problems. Audi claims the robot mechanic will “improve speed and accuracy” of service and create “an improved ownership experience for the customer.”
Robots like this already are on the market for educational and medical applications, and can be used by those too lazy to get to the office. Audi plans to have them in service at 100 dealerships nationwide and is now testing them in 18.
No word yet on how local mechanics will feel about their disembodied colleagues keeping an eye on their work. Don’t be surprised if an annoying robot is taken out of commission with a well-placed paper bag.