German carmaker Volkswagen has revealed a working prototype of a robot that can autonomously charge electric cars.
A year ago, Volkswagen revealed its mobile charging station concept in which an autonomous robot facilitates the charging of the battery of electric cars. And now, after spending a year making the concept a reality, the automaker gives us a first glimpse of the prototypes of it’s mobile charging robot.
The first working prototypes, able to revolutionize the world of electric cars, has always been linked to the current scarcity of charging infrastructures. Its task – fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking areas, like — underground car parks.
So why does it exist? The idea is to allow robots to bring the charge to vehicles parked in large residential complexes rather than having cars drive out to stations elsewhere. The other advantage: larger parking lots and garages do not have to include multiple expensive charging spots.
The robot “operates totally autonomously,” according to a press release. “It independently steers the vehicle to be charged & communicates with it: from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug & decoupling it.”
A trailer, “essentially a mobile energy storage unit,” can also take care of charging multiple cars at once. On its face, that introduces a huge inefficiency: basically, you’d have to charge the robot’s battery supply which it then uses to charge electric cars.
Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said in the statement, “Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector.”
“We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions.”
Volkswagen is hoping to launch such flexible quick-charging stations in early 2021 but is still evaluating if an autonomous robot system makes sense on a larger scale.