The service staffers at Santa Monica Audi are getting a high-tech hand to diagnose vexing vehicle issues.
The help is coming from the Audi Robotic Telepresence, or ART for short. Standing around 4 feet tall on two wheels, ART is a robot. It connects service staff and Audi technical experts at the brand's corporate offices to diagnose cars that come in for service with unusual problems.
ART's cameras, microphone, speakers and a flat-screen monitor allow Audi's technical experts from the factory to inspect vehicles in service bays and talk things over with dealership service technicians.
Audi deployed ART at around 20 Audi dealerships nationwide in a pilot program that began last summer. Now there are around 60 in the field, says Tammy Waitas, Santa Monica Audi's service manager.