Volkswagen Made a Cute EV Charging Droid That Comes to Your Car
This blinking, rolling bot carries a mobile battery over to charge your car, all while sounding like R2-D2.
The premise is simple: Instead of having to tether up to a stationary charger, you can signal to the Mobile Charging Robot that your car needs a charge, at which point, it will drag a charging battery over to you, reach out to your car's charging port with a folding arm and recharge your car's battery. Once the robot is finished with your car, it can either continue on to other cars that need charging or return to its docking station with its mobile battery.
Best of all, it barely changed from its earlier concept design, meaning that its friendly blinking eyes and droid sounds straight out of Star Wars are here to stay. It's programmed to stop for other cars or pedestrians along the way, so I'd imagine the cute-factor helps. Personally speaking, I'd prefer bots that are more like BB-8, and less like the Terminator—and I'm probably not alone on that.
According to The Verge, Volkswagen plans to keep developing this Mobile Charging Robot as in theory, it's a good idea. However, it does require that cars connect to an app or some kind of network with the Mobile Charging Robots on it—possibly V2X, or "vehicle to everything"—but automakers haven't even been able to decide on a standard for V2X tech. An app is more likely, given that many public charging stations already work through app-based interfaces.
The Verge also notes that while VW calls this a prototype, they also haven't shown it in action beyond the clip posted above. I can't be the only one who wants to play with it, for Pete's sake. If I summon this thing to a moving ID.4, will it chase me around the parking garage? Inquiring minds want to know.
Volkswagen has dedicated a lot of its resources to building out fast-charging networks recently, partially as atonement for Dieselgate and also because those ID.3s, ID.4s and the New New Beetle EV we deserve (ahem!) won't charge themselves.
This Mobile Charging Robot isn't the only thing they're testing out, as The Verge notes that VW has been testing out batteries installed at the charging station pillar itself that could store power to keep charging cars even if the electrical grid goes down or can't keep up.
Those ideas aren't as cute and won't help you if you get ICEd out of your charging spot, but they also don't run the risk of being destroyed Hitchbot-style. Are we vengeful meatsacks worthy of something this adorable, or will someone kick the Mobile Charging Robot right in the ball-bearings the second it goes to work?
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