Volkswagen develops augmented reality service manual for the XL1

After developing an augmented reality car manual for the Audi A3 and similar software for wearables like Glass, Metaio certainly knows a thing or two about the AR space. It's no surprise then, that Volkswagen has collaborated with Metaio to develop an augmented reality iPad app for the 2014 XL1 hybrid diesel that debuted earlier this year. Called MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance), the app uses the iPad's camera to view the internals of the vehicle and label the various parts and elements so that VW service workers will know what they're working on.

MARTA also shows step-by-step instructions on how to repair and replace certain components, right down to which direction mechanics should be facing. You can even use the app to test out different design elements like a new hood or a different color. And just in case all that AR doesn't prove to be useful, the app provides a good ol' fashioned text service manual as well. Seeing as the MARTA is an AR app for a very limited edition vehicle, we don't expect it to be of much use outside of certain VW specialty shops. Still, it's yet another sign that incorporating augmented reality into digital car manuals just makes sense.

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Metaio and Volkswagen announce MARTA augmented reality service support for new XL1 concept car
Augmented reality makes its way into service centers

Munich & Wolfsburg, 30 September 2013 – Today's vehicles like the XL1 are characterised by continually growing complexity. This means that service employees will need more extensive support in servicing new vehicles and their innovative functions. The XL1 is a technological frontrunner – not only in its lightweight design, aerodynamics and state-of-the-art drive technology, but in the service area as well. The MARTA project is being presented at the InsideAR Conference, the world's largest Augmented Reality conference in Munich on the 11th of October 2013 by Prof. Dr. Werner Schreiber, Head of Volkswagen Group Research.

The working methods and sequences of work steps used by employees of Volkswagen Service in their everyday work are highly dependent upon a vehicle's equipment and features. To make it easier to manage this growing complexity, employees must be efficiently supported in their work activities. This requires advanced development of the classic repair instructions which show the employee how to perform the tasks of the specific job, step by step, with relevant supplemental information such as the tools to be used, assembly configurations and test specifications.

To achieve these goals, Volkswagen developed a new display system for service information, especially for the XL1, which also provides the information on tablets and shows the service employee the next work steps directly. What is known as the MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) system, which was developed together with the company Metaio GmbH, shows real and virtual parts in three-dimensional relation to one another.

Using the previous approach, the service technician could only call up digital repair guidelines. For the XL1, these guidelines were supplemented by the MARTA augmented reality function which "labels" the individual parts and elements with text and shows work instructions clearly.

When MARTA is called up, the system lists all of the jobs to be performed along with the necessary equipment. Each work task to be performed begins with what is known as an initialisation. The vehicle's silhouette is shown in the display of the mobile end device, and it shows the employee the orientation to be taken in relation to the vehicle. If the silhouette and the camera image of the real vehicle agree, the initialisation is finished successfully. Then the individual context-dependent work steps are shown on the tablet. This gives the employee a new system for identifying work items quicker and more accurately.