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Ford, Bosch Use Virtual Reality To Train Techs

Technicians soon will be trained how to service and maintain the all-electric Mustang Mach-E without need to access a physical model – thanks to a new virtual reality (VR) training tool from Ford and Bosch.

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“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,” said Dave Johnson, director of Fordservice engineering operations. “This new virtual reality training tool allows technicians to understand the components and steps required to service these high-voltage systems, then confidently perform diagnostics and maintenance.”

Here’s how it all works: 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. 

Bosch also is developing future extensions where the technicians utilize VR to enter the vehicle and navigate through modules as if they were walking through rooms to learn the system. Navigating between modules enables the technicians to determine the issue to repair the vehicle. 

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“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.”

This new virtual reality system can be used as an ongoing training tool, allowing technicians to learn niche skills in the Ford technical training program. Virtual reality training has the potential to attract new hires to the automotive repair world, rightly framing the profession as a high-tech, forward-thinking industry in which technicians can learn more efficiently in a state-of-the-art environment, the two companies say. In addition, technicians can tap into the system from any location.

Bosch developed a proof of concept in 2019 for automotive service training via virtual reality, then market tested it with instructors, technicians and college students. Ford Motor Co. is the first automaker to pilot the application in its service technician powertrain repair course, specifically with the all-new Mustang Mach-E, the company’s first all-electric SUV. Ford could expand the technology to train on additional vehicles in the future.

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.

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