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Charge! VW prototypes to take high-tech to volt hole

  • VW presents a new and visionary charging concept
  • Mobile robots will charge electric cars autonomously
  • Every parking space can become a charging point
BEETLE CHARGERS: Autonomous robots might soon end the inevitable search for a charge.   Image: Supplied
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WOLFSBURG, Germany – Volkswagen has produced a glimpse into a future in which the search for a charging station is no more by creating s mobile charging robots that take the plug to the socket.

After it is started via app or V2X communication, the mobile robot drives itself to the vehicle that needs charging and communicates with it. From opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug to decoupling – the entire charging process occurs without any human interaction.

The highlight: the mobile robot brings a trailer in the form of a mobile energy storage device to the vehicle and connects them; it then uses this energy storage device to charge the battery of the electric vehicle.

The mobile energy storage device stays with the vehicle during the whole charging process. The robot, in the meantime, charges other electric vehicles. Once the charging service is complete, the robot collects the energy storage device and brings it back to the charging station.

WATCH THE charging robots in action

Mark Möller, head of development at VW Group Components, told The Corner in a media release: “The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in say, multi-floor and and underground car parks because we bring the charging infrastructure to the car.

”We can make put robots in every car-park without any complex infrastructure changes. It’s a visionary prototype that can be installed quite quickly if the general conditions are right.”

CAMERAS INCLUDED

CLOSE COUPLE: The robot on the right does the thinking while hooked to it is the power supply. Image: Supplied

The prototype consists of a compact self-driving robot and agile energy storage devices – ”battery wagons”. Fully charged, each will have an energy content of around 25kWh and a charging robot can move several battery wagons at the same time. When called via app or V2X communication, it takes the energy storage device to the electric vehicle and connects them.

Each robot will have cameras, laser scanners, and ultrasonic sensors to, together, not only allow the robot to carry out the charging process but also to move around the car park, to recognise obstacles, and to react to such.

”Depending on the size of the car park, several charging robots can be employed simultaneously.

The mobile charging robot can be put to use in various ways. It isn’t just a robot arm that connects a car to a fixed charging station. Instead, drivers have the choice to park in any available space, independent of whether a charging station is free or not.

The robot brings the charging station in the form of a mobile energy storage device directly to the vehicle. For operators of different parking facilities this is a quick and easy solution to electrify every parking space. “This approach has an enormous economic potential”, says Möller. “The constructional work as well as the costs for the assembly of the charging infrastructure can be reduced considerably through the use of the robots.”

BAD PARKING NO PROBLEM

The compact design of the charging robot is perfectly suited for use in restricted parking areas without charging infrastructures, such as underground car parks. Möller continues: ”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.”

The mobile charging robot is a prototype by Volkswagen Group Components, which gives an insight into the future of charging infrastructure. A possible date for the market launch of the charging robot has not been set yet.

Volkswagen engages in initiatives to establish a charging infrastructure at many levels. Together with its dealers, the company is installing a total of 36,000 charging points throughout Europe by 2025. A large proportion of these will be publicly available. Volkswagen is also launching its own wallbox for home charging called the ID.Charger.

And as a co-founder of the IONITY joint venture, Volkswagen participates in installing 400 fast-charging parks on major European highways. Medium-term, charging an EV is to become as easy as charging a smartphone.

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