The video assistant referee might not be getting much love in the Premier League, but Volkswagen’s van division has found a use for video assistance of a slightly different kind. The company’s dealers are getting virtual reality headsets that allow them to get real-time help with repairs from VW Commercial Vehicles’ technical support centre.
Designed to speed up repairs and reduce the amount of vehicle down time for customers, the headsets allow technicians to communicate with the company’s Milton Keynes HQ if they run into a tricky issue. The experts there can then help them with repairs, augmenting their field of view with instructions or helpful documentation.
The system has already been trialled, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says the tech improved repair efficiency by 93 percent, and helped save van operators a year of downtime. That, the company claims, is the equivalent of around £250,000. Furthermore, the system means the technical support team does not have to travel to dealerships to help the technicians out, which VW claims saved 2.5 tonnes of CO2 over the course of the trial.
As a result, each of the 67 Van Centres and 30 Authorised Repairers dotted around the UK will have access to a pair of the RealWear glasses, which include a microphone, head camera, display screen and voice activation. The glasses let technicians speak to experts in real time, and the experts can send assistance such as circuit diagrams directly to the glasses.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says the system is necessary because of the wide range of vehicles it offers. Small vans such as the Caddy, and pick-ups such as the Amarok have different powertrains, conversion options and electrical systems to California motorhomes and Crafter vans. This, the company says, means technicians can face a “raft” of servicing variations that might require specialist assistance every day.
David Hanna, the head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said the technology would benefit both technicians and customers, helping to speed up servicing.
“Following a hugely successful trial, we have decided to invest in the augmented reality technology to allow us to support our world class technicians and valued customers alike,” he said. “As part of our Working With You promise, we are committed to keeping customer vehicles on the road and minimising downtime – this technology provides the perfect solution by reducing the time a van spends in the workshop as well as improving the sustainability of our technical support operation.”