The folks at Volkswagen just teased an R2D2 inspired charging robot and it’s giving us all the Star Wars feels. According to VW, this is one of the visionary charging concepts that Volkswagen hopes will expand the charging infrastructure over the next few years. Its task: fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking areas, like underground car parks. VW’s hope is to further reduce the range anxiety issue that is currently hindering a more broad adoption of electric vehicles.
The yet to me named robot, is a glimpse of the real prototypes coming out of Volkswagen Group Components – an R&D arm of the automaker. This technology uses car-to-x communications which will allow the charger robot to communicate directly with the vehicle as it navigates it’s way towards said vehicle. A robot this cute deserves a name so we will call it ChargeBot.
In the video below, you can see how the ChargeBot will perform it’s solemn duties of giving juice to the masses. The animation shows a driver pulling into a spot in a garage and using an app to tell the charging robot that their vehicle needs some juice. The ChargeBot then grabs what VW is calling a “mobile energy storage” unit, which is essentially a battery on wheels, tows it over to the vehicle and plugs it in to begin charging.
However it is not clear whether the ChargeBot will then return to base and await another request or hang around the car until it’s done charging. It’s also important to note that all of this is done without the need for contact with a human, which bodes well in this new world of social distancing. This prototype reminds us of the autonomous snake-like charging arm connector robot teased by Tesla in 2015.
These types of systems could allow parking garages to more cheaply spin up a charging infrastructure without the need to place a charging station at individual parking stalls thereby loosing valuable parking real-estate. Instead, the roving chargers can be housed at a single location and deployed as needed.
There’s no word on when ChargeBot will make it to market. But in the press release accompanying this teaser, Volkswagen stated, “The mobile charging robot has successfully reached prototype status and will now be comprehensively further developed.”…whatever that means, we are excited to see the evolution of EV charging.
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