Motoring News

Don’t look now, but a robot’s plugging into your car…

  • First glimpse of the prototype charging robot
  • Infrastructure ‘key to success of electric mobility
  • Charging and charging systems ‘core issues’

WOLFSBURG, Germany – VW Group Components has sent The Corner a first glimpse of the prototypes of its mobile charging robot, describd as ”one of the visionary charging concepts VW hopes will expand the charging infrastructure over the next few years”.

Its task, the automaker says, is to create fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking places such as underground garages.

Thomas Schmall, CEO of VW Group Components, told The Corner in a media release: “A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is, and continues to be, 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.”

‘SORRY, NO HUMANS NEEDED’

The charging robot, started by an app or Car-to-X communication, operates totally autonomously. It independently steers itself to the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it, right from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and later decoupling it.

No human intervention is required – and several vehicles can be charged simultaneously – after the robot has moved a mobile energy storage unit to the vehicle, connected it, and then uses this energy storage unit to charge the vehicle.

It repeats the process to charge other vehicles.

When the vehicle is fully charged the robot independently collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station.

DIRECT-CURRENT ALSO SET TO LAUNCH

Schmall again: “Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector. We’re developing solutions to avoid costly standalone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions.”

The business unit is also working on a complete direct-current charging family scheduled for launch in early 2021 though one of the prerequisites for market maturity is Car-to-X communication to facilitate the autonomous charging process.

VW Group Components will be responsible for all Volkswagen Group charging activities and charging systems. The intention, the company says, is to integrate the charging robot into an overall concept that will focus on the long-term success of electric mobility, and thus the electrification of transport.

BONUS GEAR FOR HIGH-RISE GARAGES

“Our developments don’t just focus on customers’ needs and the technical prerequisites of electric vehicles, Schmall explained. “They also consider the economic possibilities for potential partners.”

Such partners, in high-rise garages, could quickly and simply “electrify” every parking space with the charging robot – a concept that should reduce any construction work needed while reducing potential cost.

Watch the mobile charger, er, on the charge...

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