Say Goodbye to EV-Only Parking Spots, Hello to VW Mobile Charging Robots
Simply park and let the autonomous little guys take care of the rest.
Reminiscent of the free-roaming machines that travel across its assembly plants without human input, Volkswagen is aiming to eliminate the problems, expense, and constraints that come with fixed EV charging stations. The answer: robots.
Currently being developed as concepts, VW's mobile and autonomous robot EV chargers will allegedly move around parking lots, bringing the electricity to you and essentially make every parking spot a charging point—therefore eliminating the need to find EV-only spots (which are oftentimes taken by douchebags in Ford Raptors).
The system consists of one mobile robot and many "battery wagons," as Volkswagen is calling them. Once a request for electricity is initiated from your car or, naturally, a mobile app, the entire charge process is carried out without human intervention. A mobile robot accompanied by a battery wagon approaches your car autonomously and opens the vehicle's charging flap, inserts the charger—and takes it out when it's finished—all autonomously. The car's owner is then notified via said app when their electric Volkswagen is charged up and ready to roll again.
Once the battery wagon has successfully connected with the vehicle, the friendly-faced robot with the arm is free to roam around and assist other cars, connecting and disconnecting other battery wagons with other hungry EVs, acting almost like a waiter in a restaurant but, y'know, for electric cars. It even wears a tie.
Using cameras, laser scanners, and ultrasonic sensors, the robotic butler can navigate its parking lot independently and avoid moving vehicles, people, and other objects. Obviously, it isn't capable enough to stop reckless drivers or vandals from crashing into it on purpose but knowing robots, we're not sure that's a bad thing. We've seen I, Robot, okay?
VW says one mobile robot can transport multiple battery wagons at once and that a single battery wagon can hold up to 25 kWh of charge. Once plugged into a vehicle, the system is capable of DC quick charging at up to 50 kW. As shown in these images and video, the little guys can charge at their designated, affixed charging ports between charges or at the end of a work shift.
"The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multi-story car parks, parking spaces, and underground car parks because we bring the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures," said VW Group Components development boss Mark Möller.
The entire system remains in "visionary prototype" stage, for now, but Möller says it could become a real thing that real EV owners actually use "quite quickly if the general conditions are right."
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