Ford has recently released a press release highlighting its intention to use VR to train technicians on their upcoming Mach-E SUV. By trialing Bosch's VR training system, they hope to prepare their technicians well in advance of their new EV's release later this year.
Ford is working with Bosch to develop the system
Ford has recently announced that Mach-E technicians will be trained using virtual reality. The news release from Bosch and Ford yesterday reveals that both companies are jointly developing the new VR tools to help technicians service Ford's new electric SUV.
All this without a physical vehicle anywhere in sight.
Participating technicians will use Oculus Quest VR sets. Using this setup, wearers will be presented with a simulation of major components and systems of the vehicle.
Gamification is also hinted at being part of future developments of the system too. This will allow technicians to virtually play around with the vehicles gubbins.
"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 the press release.
Bosch has already developed a proof of concept last year for automotive service training via VR to great success. This was marketed to instructors, technicians, and college students, including, it appears, Ford decision-makers.
Ford has been the first major automaker to pilot the application in the real world via its service technician power-train repair course.
"The virtual reality training solution uses an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset from Facebook. Ford and Bosch are working with Oculus for Business to manage their fleet of headsets deployed to the Ford technician training program, as well as with PIXO VR. The company’s proprietary virtual reality content distribution platform enables scaling and iterating virtual reality training software and applications," Ford explains in the press release.
Why do Ford technicians need this gear?
The primary incentive for the collaboration between Bosch and Ford is a matter of practicality. When the Ford Mach-E is finally launched, many of their techs at Ford repair shops will probably never have seen anything like it.
By developing the VR training program now, technicians will be well-prepared when the first vehicles start arriving in their workshops.
"A technician will learn how to diagnose and perform service related to the vehicle’s high-voltage system wearing the virtual reality headset. This includes tasks such as removal and installation of the main battery as well as service and maintenance on the battery pack itself," explains Ford.
This is especially true for technicians who are more accustomed to internal combustion engines rather than EVs. After all, once you "pop the hood," they might be in for a bit of a surprise.
The VR training program will not only teach them the fundamentals of the machine but also help them diagnose and repair potential faults. It will also teach them how to perform basic maintenance and servicing.
"The virtual reality training solution is about new technology that builds efficiency," said Geoff Mee, director of operations for Bosch. "By improving the diagnostic process, technicians are able to perform maintenance and make repairs faster and more easily."
At present, the VR technology is to be strictly limited as an educational and informational tool for Mustang Mach-E techs. By gaining an insight into the basic fundamentals of the car, techs should get to grips with the new EV in no time.
It is also hoped that the VR solution, if successful, could be expanded to other Ford vehicles in the future.
Ford has also announced that its new SUV should be ready for launch later this year.