Volkswagen Shows Off its Autonomous EV Charging Robot Concept
【Summary】With plans to be one of the world’s leading producers of electric vehicles, German automaker Volkswagen is aiming to make electric vehicle charging as convenient as possible. The company’s latest concept is an autonomous charging robot that will do the job automatically.
One of the ways to increase electric vehicle adoption is making charging more convenient for drivers. With plans to be one of the world's leading producers of electric vehicles, German automaker Volkswagen is aiming to make EV charging as easy as possible and the company's latest concept is a charging robot that will do the job automatically.
Volkswagen unveiled this week a prototype of its mobile charging robot. The autonomous robot is one of the visionary charging concepts that Volkswagen hopes will expand EV charging infrastructure over the next few years.
The automaker's fully autonomous charging robot is primarily designed for indoor parking garages. A driver can simply park in an open spot and the autonomous robot will initiate a charging session without any human assistance after the driver requests one.
With Volkswagen's concept, drivers use an app or Car-to-X communication to request a charge. One a charging session is initiated by the driver, the charging robot independently steers itself to the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it from opening the charging socket cover on the vehicle to connecting the plug. Once charging is complete, the robot disconnects the plug from the vehicle.
The entire charging process takes place without any human assistance whatsoever.
To charge several vehicles at the same time, the mobile robot brings a portable energy storage battery to the vehicle and connects it to the charging port.
The energy storage unit stays with the vehicle during the charging process. In the meantime, the robot can charge other nearby electric vehicles. Once the charging process is completed, the robot collects each mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station so it can be recharged and ready for the next vehicle that needs a charge.
The robot charger is just one of the ways that Volkswagen is looking to make charging easier for drivers, which can help to boost EV adoption. Volkswagen said its business unit is currently working on a complete DC charging family of products.
"A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is and remains a key factor in the success of electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but is undoubtedly one of the most visionary," said Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Components' CEO.
The mobile charging robot has successfully reached prototype status and will now be further developed, the automaker said. One of the prerequisites for the robot's deployment is Car-to-X (car to infrastructure) communication to help facilitate the autonomous charging process. Using car-to-X communication, the robot can receive charging data directly from the vehicle.
The charging robot is just one part of VW's plans focusing on the long-term success of electric mobility. VW is also considering working with partners to roll out the robotic chargers. The technology can help operators of parking structures and underground car parks to quickly and simply "electrify" every parking space by using the mobile charging robot.
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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