Audi's New Mechanics Are Disembodied Heads

Telepresence robots are one of those ideas that look great on paper. Then you see a jittery video feed of Edward Snowden's face rolling onto stage like a decapitated head with a piece of plastic holding it up and… no. But naturally, the Germans have come up with something genuinely useful.

Audi is deploying a fleet of telepresence machines to dealers across the U.S to help with diagnosis and repair. The remote mechanic can talk with coworkers, see the car that's in for service, and control the direction of the machine to get a better view.

It's a smart solution for dealers that might not have the resources to send a mechanic to Ingolstadt for a crash course on the latest technology, and gives the mechanics that are trained a chance to help out his compatriots at other service centers.

The first trial of the VGo Communications-developed Audi Robotic Telepresence (ART) is set to infiltrate 18 dealers in the states this year before expanding to 100 centers in the future. And it's a helluva lot better than an iPad stuck to a broomstick and a skateboard.