A year ago, Volkswagen unveiled its mobile charging station concept in which an autonomous robot facilitates the charging of the battery of electric cars. And now, after spending a year making the concept a reality, the automaker gives us a first glimpse of the prototypes of its mobile charging robot.
The first working prototypes, able to revolutionize the world of electric cars, has always been linked to the current scarcity of charging infrastructures. Its task – fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking areas, like underground car parks.
The concept consists of two modules – an energy storage device trailer with a charger and a mobile robot that can tow the trailer unit to a vehicle for charging.
The operation of the mobile charging robots is very simple: once the car is parked, the charging robots start either via an app or automatically, thanks to the Car-to-X communication. The robot independently steers the vehicle to be charged and communicate with it – from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it. The entire charging process takes place without any human involvement whatsoever.
The robot can also charge the batteries of several vehicles at the same time. To do this, the mobile robot moves a trailer, essentially a mobile energy storage unit, to the vehicle, connects it up, and then uses this energy storage unit to charge the battery of the electric vehicle. The energy storage unit stays with the vehicle during the charging process. In the meantime, the robot charges other electric vehicles.
Also, thanks to Car-to-X connectivity, once the charging process is finished or the owner arrives, the batteries for charging are automatically disconnected. The robot independently collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station. It is designed to be simple to set up almost anywhere and be moved easily. However, VW says it is working on a “complete DC charging family.”
“Setting up efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector. We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions,” says Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components.
The flexible quick-charging station has successfully reached prototype status and will now be comprehensively further developed. A technology currently being tested in some German Volkswagen offices, waiting to become available on the market. It is scheduled to be launched onto the market in early 2021.