Ford Motor Co., in partnership with automotive supplier Robert Bosch, will use virtual reality to teach service technicians at dealerships how to work on the upcoming Mustang Mach-E electric crossover.
Through the use of a VR headset, techs can learn how to service the crossover's battery pack and how to remove and install the main battery. Bosch said it's working on updates that would allow techs to virtually enter the vehicle.
Ford is the first automaker to pilot the application in its service technician powertrain repair course, the company said.
"Technicians will be immersed in a simulated and gamified world, meaning they won't need to rely on actual Mustang Mach-E vehicles to learn about its components, including the electric SUV's new high-voltage system," Dave Johnson, director of Ford service engineering operations, said in a statement Friday. "This new virtual reality training tool allows technicians to understand the components and steps required to service these high-voltage systems, then confidently perform diagnosis and maintenance."
The Mach-E, due this year as a 2021 model, is Ford's first battery-electric crossover. Ford told its dealers that if they want to sell the vehicle, they'll have to get recertified to be able to service EVs. Officials have said the brand has 9,500 trained EV technicians and 2,000 dealerships certified to work on EVs.
Ford says the VR system allows service techs to learn skills without a physical vehicle. It hopes the technology can attract new workers to the profession.
The system uses the Oculus Quest virtual reality headset from Facebook. Ford has dabbled with virtual and augmented reality in other areas of its business, including product development and vehicle design, previously testing devices such as Microsoft's HoloLens.