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A Robot May Soon Fix Your Car

Audi's Remote Telepresence (ART) a remote robot on wheels helps a automotive technician. Audi's Remote Telepresence (ART) a remote robot on wheels helps a automotive technician.
Audi's Remote Telepresence (ART) a remote robot on wheels helps a automotive technician. Photo: Courtesy of Audi

When faced with a tricky automotive repair, Jamie Ludolph used to turn to a tome-like service manual. Today at the Atlanta car dealership where Ludolph is a master guild technician, he can turn to a robot.

The Audi Robotic Telepresence, or ART, is a remote-controlled robot on wheels. Outfitted with cameras and a screen, it lets mechanics at Audi of America dealerships talk to experts at the company’s technical center in Auburn Hills, Mich.

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“At the beginning I wasn’t really sure how helpful it would be or if there were any advantages to it,” says Ludolph, who has been a mechanic for more than two decades. “The first time I used it, though, I realized how much time it cut off of what my normal routine would be.”

ART isn’t used for every problem, and today’s mechanics have several high-tech diagnostic tools at their disposal. But the robot is the latest example of how dealership repair shops have transformed from grease pits into high-tech service centers loaded with computers.

“In the last 10 years the technology has gotten a lot more advanced, a lot quicker,” says Ludolph.

Despite that pace, Ludolph isn’t nostalgic for the old days. The job “is a little bit cleaner than it used to be,” he says, “although sometimes you still have to get in there and get dirty.”

This article is part of the Future of Work article from Fortune’s July 1, 2016 issue. Click here to see the entire package.