One of the biggest hurdles to owning an electric vehicle is what happens if you start running low on charge and have to find a charging station. Although much has been done in terms of providing more charging stations to make finding one less onerous, Volkswagen may have the ultimate solution — make the charging station come to you.
The company has developed a robot that takes over the task of charging, including going to wherever the car is parked, turning almost every parking spot in just about any car park into a charging station. It also means that there is no need to have a human hooking up the plug and starting the flow of electricity.
“With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures,” says Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components. “It’s a visionary prototype, which can be made into reality quite quickly, if the general conditions are right.”
The EV driver uses the vehicle’s infotainment system or a mobile app to “page” a robot to wherever the vehicle is parked. The self-driving robot tows a 25 kWh “battery wagon” to the spot, opens the EV’s charging socket flap and hooks up the plug, then goes off to collect another battery wagon for another EV that pages a charge. The robot returns when the charging cycle is complete to collect the charging station and returns “home” to recharge it.
The mobile charging robot is a prototype developed by Volkswagen Group Components. Its compact size allows it to work well in any parking facility and there’s never the possibility of an EV being blocked from a charging station. A possible implementation date has not yet been set.
“This approach has an enormous economic potential”, concludes 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.”