Almost exactly one year ago to the day, Volkswagen introduced a mobile charging robot concept designed to take away any human interaction in public electric car charging. Today, the concept is now a reality, and the best part is that it’s super adorable.
Designed specifically for restricted parking areas where shoehorning in a charging facility is cumbersome and sometimes impossible, the fully autonomous mobile charging robot will be an efficient way to create a charging network in places like underground car parks where the entire charging process is completed without any human intervention, without the need for a specialised parking spot.
The Volkswagen mobile charging robot can be summoned via a mobile application, or through the car’s own Car-to-X communication. Once activated, the robot will then drag along a mobile energy storage unit (i.e. a large battery), or “battery wagon” to the car. The entire charging process – from opening the charging flap to plugging in the charging cable – happens autonomously, with the robot communicating directly with the car itself to facilitate the process.
Once connected, the battery wagon is then left beside the car, while the robot moves away to repeat the process again with another vehicle requiring charging services. Once charging is complete, the robot then drops by to collect the depleted battery wagon, bringing it back to its home base to charge up for future usage.
The robots are equipped with an array of cameras, laser scanners, and ultrasonic sensors to help it autonomously navigate safely to the vehicle requiring charging. That’s impressive and all, but did we mention how cute the robot is? Not only does it have completely unnecessary digital eyes, the mobile charging robot even makes sci-fi robot noises – just for the fun of it!
No information was provided on the robot’s charging capacity this time round, but Volkswagen said previously that each battery wagon contains 25kWh of charge, and is capable of fast charging up to 50kW.
“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 Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall.
The lack of widespread charging facilities is undoubtedly the biggest shortfall of electric vehicles currently. With innovative solutions such as the mobile charging robot, Volkswagen hopes that it will be able to spur the uptake in EVs in the coming years.
“Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector. We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions,” Schmall adds.