With a pricetag of about $150,000, buyers of the upcoming, limited-edition Volkswagen XL1 will probably wish that the repair bills be "virtual" as well, but VW's new "augmented reality" feature will only apply to the repairs themselves, at least for now. Europe's biggest automaker, which is preparing to start selling limited numbers of the XL1, is using Munich's InsideAR Conference later this week to show off an augmented reality project that will allow technicians to simulate repairs of the vehicle on a tablet computer before breaking out the wrenches.

The project is called MARTA, which in this case stands for Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance, and has nothing to do with Atlanta's public-transportation system. The project, which VW co-developed with Metaio GmbH, involves the display of both real and "virtual" three-dimensional images as well as "labels" on individual parts and displays on how repair certain parts. The caveat is that the labels are in German, but it's a start.

As for the XL1, Volkswagen has built 50 of them and plans to build another 200 by early next year to get at least some sort of limited volume behind the project. The hook to the XL1, of course, is the lightweight body, super aerodynamics and the fact that the car may get more than 250 miles per gallon. That fuel economy doesn't come cheap, as the car's expected to have a pricetag of about $150,000. Read Autoblog's First Drive impressions here.

Check out a short video on the project below, and read VW's press release here.

Show full PR text
MARTA – innovative service support for the XL1

Augmented reality makes its way into service centres

MARTA in the application with display of work items and superimposed geometries MARTA in the application with display of work items and superimposed geometries

Today's vehicles like the XL1 are characterised by continually growing complexity. This means that service employees will need more extensive support in servicing new vehicles and their innovative functions. The XL1 is a technological frontrunner – not only in its lightweight design, aerodynamics and state-of-the-art drive technology, but in the service area as well. The MARTA project is being presented at the InsideAR Conference, the world's largest Augmented Reality conference in Munich on the 11th of October 2013 by Prof. Werner Schreiber, Head of Volkswagen Group Research, Virtual Technologies.

The working methods and sequences of work steps used by employees of Volkswagen Service in their everyday work are highly dependent upon a vehicle's equipment and features. To make it easier to manage this growing complexity, employees must be efficiently supported in their work activities. This requires advanced development of the classic repair instructions which show the employee how to perform the tasks of the specific job, step by step, with relevant supplemental information such as the tools to be used, assembly configurations and test specifications.

To achieve these goals, Volkswagen developed a new display system for service information, especially for the XL1, which also provides the information on tablets and shows the service employee the next work steps directly. What is known as the MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) system, which was developed together with the company Metaio GmbH, shows real and virtual parts in three-dimensional relation to one another.

Using the previous approach, the service technician could only call up digital repair guidelines. For the XL1, these guidelines were supplemented by the MARTA augmented reality function which "labels" the individual parts and elements with text and shows work instructions clearly.

When MARTA is called up, the system lists all of the jobs to be performed along with the necessary equipment. Each work task to be performed begins with what is known as an initialisation. The vehicle's silhouette is shown in the display of the mobile end device, and it shows the employee the orientation to be taken in relation to the vehicle. If the silhouette and the camera image of the real vehicle agree, the initialisation is finished successfully. Then the individual context-dependent work steps are shown on the tablet. This gives the employee a new system for identifying work items quicker and more accurately.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 3 Comments
      Tweaker
      • 1 Year Ago
      VW has been spewing augmented reality for years.
      • 1 Year Ago
      May help boost VW's brand image, but the real business value of this application is questionable. Should focus on actual information needs of service technicians.. See http://joebarkai.com/augmented-reality-service-manuals/
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would rather VW get an augmented price for this car. They can charge what they want but BMW is proving that they can use carbon fiber cheaply. I'd like for VW to make a less expensive version of this vehicle. Gosh I sound like those people that say the same thing about the Model S. Good luck, VW.