Next time you take your Audi in for service, watch to see if a little white stand is following your mechanic around. It's not some new measurement tool for your car; it's a actually a robot being controlled remotely to improve vehicle service. While bots playing a role in building cars is nothing new, the company is taking things a step further in the US by introducing Audi Robotic Telepresence to assist dealer technicians in repairing the brand's vehicles. The droids are already being used in a pilot program at about 18 dealers nationwide with plans to have it at 100 in the near future.

At the moment, ART, as its called, is more R2-D2 than The Terminator. It certainly won't be doing any wrenching on your A4 anytime soon because it doesn't even have arms. Instead, the robot comprises a remote-controlled stand with multiple cameras, a microphone and speakers. The bot is operated remotely by Audi Technical Assistance consultants and Technical Field Managers who can talk back-and-forth with mechanics about vehicle service and help to remotely diagnose problems. The droid is even equipped with a handheld camera and borescope to reach into tiny crevices.

Audi claims that ART is the first system of its kind to directly link automakers with technicians at the dealer level in this way and leads to faster, more accurate service for customers. Scroll down to watch a video of the bot in action and read the release for the current list of participating dealers.

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Audi deploys innovative communications robots to streamline vehicle service visits

- Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) is the first technology of its kind among automakers
- Communication device allows Audi Technical Assistance consultants to remotely diagnose vehicle problems
- ART will improve service speed and accuracy for customers as well as reporting of technical topics to Audi factories

HERNDON, Va., June 17, 2014 – Maintenance is part of any vehicle ownership experience, and streamlined service visits are crucial predictors of improved customer satisfaction. That is why Audi is launching a first-of-its-kind communications robot to help Audi dealership technicians quickly diagnose and troubleshoot repair issues that they may encounter.

The innovative Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) provides a one-on-one virtual link that connects dealers across the country with expert technicians at Audi of America. This telepresence allows those technicians to inspect and help service vehicles as if they were standing alongside the local dealer technicians.

This level of service precision is accomplished through ART's physical design: the system is an advanced, remotely controlled robot that displays the operator's face on a screen while permitting the ability to move around the vehicle. ART enables Audi Technical Service teams to interact and converse with service technicians at local dealerships, even while physically in a different location. An attached borescope and handheld camera allow the operator to further inspect engine components and other difficult-to-reach parts of the vehicle.

[To view running video footage of ART please visit:]

Audi Technical Assistance consultants will be the primary operators of ART, as well as more regionally based Technical Field Managers. Dealerships with an ART robot simply need a Wi-Fi® connection for a remote Technical Service consultant to access the device using a computer or tablet.

"ART was designed with both Audi technicians and consumers in mind," said Brian Stockton, General Manager, Technical Support, Audi of America. "The device will give local service technicians valuable one-on-one interaction with their counterparts at Audi of America, which will not only benefit the speed and depth of service at the dealer level, but create an improved ownership experience for the customer in general."

Audi of America expects to have ART units in 100 dealers across the U.S.
ART is being tested via a pilot program at the following Audi dealers:

- Audi Minneapolis – MN
- Audi Nashua – NH
- Audi North Houston – TX
- Audi North Scottsdale – AZ
- Audi Pembroke Pines – FL
- Audi Rochester Hills – MI
- Audi Tysons Corner – VA
- Barrier Audi – WA
- Beechmont Audi – OH
- Danbury Audi – CT
- New Country Audi – CT
- Paul Miller Audi – NJ
- Prestige Audi – CO
- Rusnak Audi – CA
- Santa Monica Audi – CA
- Stevens Creek Audi – CA
- The Audi Exchange – IL
- The Collection Audi - FL

The ART system concept was developed by the Audi Technical Support team in conjunction with VGo Communications, Inc., a provider of robotic telepresence solutions for healthcare, education, and the workplace. The ART user interface system, including the screen, handheld camera, and borescope, is unique to Audi specifications for optimal dealership technical use. ART represents the first step in Audi dealership telepresence. The Audi Technical Support team and VGo Communications are researching new tools and accessories to further improve ART's capabilities.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      The million dollar question is will it have the ability to slap the service technician ? that my friends is technology put to good use.
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can imagine the technology being added onto cars these days are growing much faster than the average mechanic can keep up with. Having someone guide them through complex systems from a central location is brilliant.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is one application where I would choose Google Glass over a Telepresence robot.
        • 1 Year Ago
        There was a rumor in tech school that someone was looking into that augmented reality stuff and build repair instructions using the technology. You could look at the car and it would tell you what bolts to pull and etc.... Not sure which manufacturer it was. I guess Google glasses could make that a reality.
      Davey Hiltz
      • 9 Months Ago

      Well, that's one way to get a car fixed properly. I think that's a great use of modern technology to have a virtual assistant like that. I would probably need one 24/7 for fixing my car. I'm always running into trouble getting it repaired. 

      • 1 Year Ago
      Cool use of technology. These drones should help the mechanics with the subtleties of how the systems fit together and work together.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Absolutely brilliant...
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good idea in theory but it makes you wonder how much it will cost the dealers who will pass the cost onto the customer.
      • 1 Year Ago
      my brake pedal was going down and EVERYBODY told me it was the master cylinder including the dealer techs it was the ABS pump this is why this may be a good idea
      • 1 Year Ago
      A 4 foot tall robot with zero peripheral vision and severely limited (if any) echolocation abilities running around a busy garage? I give these things a week before someone backs over one. And depending on who's on the other end, it might not even be accidental.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This doesn't come across as addressing problems in the trenches, so much as connecting engineers with mechanics on the ground to start considering ways to resolve problems before they begin. With both the repair facility and engineer communicating in real-time on actual issues the engineer can hopefully brainstorm ways to re-engineer components and systems to make them more reliable, function better, and be repaired more easily, safely and quickly. Combined with the modular MQB platform this is going to make the whole process - engineering to repair - much more streamlined. Good for customers!
      D E S I G N
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's moving to slow!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Taking my s4 in tomorrow actually, lol.
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