Robots Roll Into Repair Shops

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In East Hartford the technology rolls on.

The service department at Hoffman Audi recently introduced "ART" -- Audi Robotic Telepresence.

Armed with three cameras, ART helps auto techs in the garage with various issues that arise when fixing a car. The robot, which is nearly five feet tall, has a screen and an advanced computer system. Through a virtual link, a master technician anywhere around the globe can peek under a hood and troubleshoot a problem.

"He moves around, he hears, he can see," Elliot Matos, Hoffman Audi's service manager, said of the four-month-old robot. "As the complexity of these vehicles increases, so does the ability to fix them so sometimes you need additional help."

Glenn MacGregor, an Audi field tech manager, is one of the people who show up on ART's monitor and provide the tips to get the cars out of the shop and back on the road. Clicking his computer mouse, MacGregor can maneuver the robot around the garage.

"We can be the eyes and ears, we can see exactly what is going on in the car and get it resolved much quicker," MacGregor said.

MacGregor said the robotic technology came from the medical field and he sees more applications, such as ART as having a future in auto shops all over the world.

Matos added, "We see the potential it has, it's really fantastic."

ART is in about 40 Audi dealers across North America. The robot costs about $8,000.

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