Automotive giants Volkswagen have provided a glimpse into the future, in which the search for charging stations for electric cars could come to an end.
Volkswagen Group Components’ mobile charging robot, which is completely autonomous, takes over the task of charging your vehicle's battery.
After the robot is started via an app or V2X communication, it drives itself to the vehicle that needs charging and communicates with it.
From opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug to decoupling – the entire charging process occurs without any human interaction.
The mobile robot brings a trailer in the form of a mobile energy storage device to the vehicle and connects them; it then uses this energy storage device to charge the battery of the electric vehicle.
The mobile energy storage device stays with the vehicle during the whole charging process. The robot, in the meantime, charges other electric vehicles.
Once the charging service is complete, the robot collects the energy storage device and brings it back to the charging station.
“The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multistorey 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,” summarises Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components.
“It’s a visionary prototype, which can be made into reality quite quickly, if the general conditions are right,” Möller continues.
Volkswagen Group Components is researching different approaches to the assembly of charging infrastructure and has already developed several successful products.
The flexible quick charging station and DC wall boxes are already part of a future charging family.
They say customer-oriented, intelligent and flexible approaches to charging are at the centre of the research.
Autonomous, compact and flexible, the charging robot prototype consists of a compact, self-driving robot as well as flexible and agile energy storage devices, also known as battery wagons.
When fully charged, these are equipped with an energy content of around 25 kWh each. A charging robot can move several battery wagons at the same time.
When called via app or V2X communication, it brings the energy storage device to the electric vehicle and connects them both autonomously. With its integrated charging electronics, the energy storage device allows for DC quick charging with up to 50 kWh on the vehicle.
The robot, which can drive autonomously, is fitted with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors. The combination of these systems not only allows the robot to carry out the charging process completely autonomously but also to move around freely in the parking area, to recognise possible obstacles and to react to these.
Depending on the size of the parking area or the underground car park, several charging robots can be employed simultaneously so that several vehicles can be attended to.
The company is installing a total of 36,000 charging points throughout Europe by 2025. A large proportion of these will be publicly available.
Volkswagen is also launching its own wallbox for home charging called the ID.Charger. And as a co-founder of the IONITY joint venture, Volkswagen participates in installing 400 fast-charging parks on major European highways. Medium-term, they say charging an EV is to become as easy as charging a smartphone.