The mobile charging robot is a new, revolutionary prototype that can travel to your electric vehicle then recharge it on your behalf, Volkswagen Group Components revealed. The robot is reminiscent of R2-D2 from Star Wars, about the height of a car door, and has a flexible arm. So, how does the charge process work?
How robot works
Once your vehicle has been parked the robot travels to it autonomously. It navigates via cameras, laser scanners, and ultrasonic sensors that can see hazards. Note too that the robot tows an energy storage device (battery). The robot now opens the flap in your vehicle’s bodywork that covers the charge socket, connects the energy storage device, then leaves to do other things.
Once your car has been charged, the robot – that has eyes and a friendly expression – disconnects the energy storage device and closes the flap in the car’s bodywork. It then tows the storage device to its own charge point to replenish the energy transferred to your car. The whole process is fully autonomous. You do nothing.
Furthermore, the mobile charging robot can access several energy storage devices so it can simultaneously serve multiple cars. It can also work independently or as one of a team of robots. The latter is handy if there are too many electric vehicles for one robot to handle. There might be a very large car park, for example.
Further demand for electric cars
The mobile charging robot might encourage people to increasingly switch from traditional vehicles to cleaner, zero emission, electric cars that cannot pollute the planet. Why? Because as of now some people are reluctant to swap as it can be hard to find a parking space that contains a charger. This causes ‘range anxiety’.
Consider a typical large car park. At best, it likely contains a handful of bays that have a charger compared to hundreds that do not. This is because it is very expensive, time consuming, and disruptive to fit a charger to every space. It might therefore be preferable to have a robot that can charge a car in any normal bay.
VW praises its robot
Volkswagen Group Components Head of Development, Mark Möller, summarised the benefits. ‘The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities. We bring the charge infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. With this, we are making almost every car park electric without complex individual infrastructural’, he said.