‘Tis the season for Volkswagen to bring us up to speed on its efforts to form charging electric vehicles a totally autonomous operation. A year ago, almost to the day, the automaker unveiled its mobile charging robot concept and now, having spent the past 12 months making the concept a reality, it’s given us the first glimpse of the robot in prototype form.
To recap, VW’s mobile charging concept consists of 2 separate but complementary modules; a “mobile energy device“ trailer, which is actually a big battery on wheels, complete with charger; & a mobile robot which will tow the trailer unit to a vehicle, plug in the charger and leave the trailer there while it tends to other vehicles or goes back to base to await further orders. Once charging is complete, the robot retrieves the trailer & take it back the charging station to be topped-up.
The whole process, which is started either through an app or by Car-to-X communication, is totally autonomous.
The concept followed-on from an all-in-one prototype that VW showed in 2017, but splitting the battery from the hardware & software needed to travel to the desired vehicle, open the charge flap, guide the plug to the charge port, decouple the plug when charging is complete & return to the charging station has obvious-advantages in terms of cost reductions.
The system is meant to address one among the most barriers to entry for those considering the purchase of an electrical vehicle, a lack of charging infrastructure. Although the amount of charging stations around the world continues to increase, integrating them into existing structures like underground car parks & restricted parking areas are often difficult & expensive.
The charging robot joins VW’s flexible quick-charging station in attempting to beat this problem. Being developed-in partnership with Shanghai DU-POWER New Energy Technical Co. Ltd., in an effort to assist expand the e-mobility market in China, the flexible quick-charging station is meant to be simple to set up almost anywhere & be moved easily. However, VW says it’s working on a “complete DC charging family”.
“Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for future is a central task that challenges the whole sector,” says Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components. “We are developing solutions to-help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot & our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions.”
Now that it’s reached prototype stage, VW says it’ll continue further development of the mobile charging robot. Meanwhile, the flexible quick-charging station is scheduled to launch in 2021.
The mobile charging robot concept is demonstrated in the following video :