Electric and Autonomous car

Out-of-the-box: Volkswagen’s battery charging robots

Volkswagen battery charging robot, courtesy of Volkswagen

Electric car charging stations remain a major hurdle for electric vehicle (EV) adoption, but maybe, just maybe, robots could help overcome that.

Volkswagen (VW) last week revealed its concept for a totally autonomous EV charging robot. Essentially, this little robot wanders around parking garages, parking lots and the like and brings a mobile charging pack, called the “battery wagon,” to electric cars as needed.

When a robot detects that a vehicle is in range and with a low battery, it will tow a storage device next to the car, open the socket flap, connect the plug and leave the device next to the car while it charges before returning to a central station.

The robot doesn’t hang around. VW said the machine leaves the charging device with the EV and the robot heads out to find other cars that need battery juicing.

The totally autonomous machine features cameras, sensors and lasers to meander its way around parking lots. With its capabilities, VW said it can carry multiple battery wagons at once. Each of them houses 25 kWh worth of energy each. DC fast charging allows the cars to receive up to 50 kW.

Depending on the size of the garage or lot, an operator could deploy a handful of these robots to motor around and charge cars as needed. It’s a pretty wonderful solution to charging infrastructure needs — especially in large cities. Robots and their battery wagons would forego the need to build physical (and stationary) charging stations.

Of course, the robots would need to take the battery wagons somewhere to charge them, too. However, if they can couple and decouple from an EV’s charging port, they can surely perform manoeuvres needed to charge the battery wagons.

Mark Moller, head of development at VW Group components, said; “The mobile charging robot will start a revolution… as we bring the charging infrastructure the car and not the other way around. We are making almost every car park electric, without any complex infrastructure measures.”

Our Conclusion

We think this is a good solution to the worries about the shortage of public charging points. We believe this battery charging robot will lead to a number of business ventures, such as mobile charging in public places and roaming charging robots delivering battery juicing at residential areas. Car washing facility can also offer battery juicing for EV while it is being washed.

This could mean the ubiquitous petrol stations would be replaced much faster.