Volkswagen Unveils a Robotic Mobile EV Charging Concept
【Summary】German automaker Volkswagen offered a glimpse into the future by unveiling a visionary electric vehicle charging robot concept that can turn any parking space into an electric vehicle charging station.
German automaker Volkswagen offered a glimpse into the future by unveiling a visionary electric vehicle charging robot concept that can turn any ordinary parking space into an electric vehicle charging station.
The technology eliminates the need for electric vehicle drivers to find a dedicated EV charging spot to charge their vehicle and is a look at how EV chargers might work in the future.
The mobile charging robot does all of the work automatically and navigates to the electric vehicle's location completely autonomously. The robot can also communicate with the vehicle using Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology.
"It's a visionary prototype, which can be made into reality quite quickly, if the general conditions are right." said Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components.
The entire setup is compact and flexible, according to Volkswagen. The prototype consists of a self-driving robot, as well portable energy storage devices called "battery wagons." Each battery wagon is equipped with an energy content of around 25 kWh.
The robot delivers a battery wagon to the vehicle's location, with enough juice to charge it. The mobile energy storage device stays with the vehicle during the whole charging process, freeing up the robot to charge other vehicles.
A charging robot can move several battery wagons at the same time. With its integrated charging electronics, the energy storage device allows for DC quick charging with up to 50 kW on the vehicle.
The autonomous EV charging robot is fitted with a suite of cameras, lidar and radar. These systems allow the robot to move freely in the parking area, navigating around any obstacles in its path.
Depending on the size of the parking area or the underground car park, several charging robots can be employed simultaneously so that several vehicles can be attended to.
Once a driver sets up the robotic charging feature via app or V2X communication, the mobile robot will drive itself to where the vehicle is parked, open the charging port cover and connect the charging cable.
Once charging is completed, the robot disconnects the cable from the vehicle and collects the energy storage device and brings it back to the charging station. The entire charging process requires no human interaction.
The futuristic charging concept may one day be used in underground parking garages managed parking lots, along highway rest stops, or at large stadium events to charge electric vehicle automatically. Drivers will have the choice to park in any available space.
"The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities. With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures." said Möller.
For operators of different parking facilities the robotic chargers are a quick and easy solution to electrify every parking space. The compact design of the charging robot is perfectly suited for use in restricted parking areas, such as underground car parks where it's difficult to install bulky EV chargers.
"This approach has enormous economic potential." said Möller. "Even the well-known problem of a charging station being blocked by another vehicle will no longer exist with our concept. You simply choose any parking space as usual. You can leave the rest to our electronic helper."
A possible date for the market launch of the charging robot has not been set, but Volkswagen continues to work on additional EV charging solutions as the automaker electrifies its model lineup.
Volkswagen is installing a total of 36,000 charging points throughout Europe over the next five years, A large number of these EV charging sites will be open to the public.
Like rival Tesla has done with its home charger, Volkswagen is also launching its own wallbox for home charging called the "ID.Charger." In addition, as part of Volkswagen's joint venture IONITY, the automaker is installing 400 fast-charging parks on major European highways.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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