One of the obstacles preventing wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is a lack of infrastructure. Charging stations aren’t nearly as common as gas stations, and that can make it challenging for drivers to get the power they need. But what if there were a mobile device that could turn any parking lot or garage into a charge point? That’s the future envisioned by Volkswagen’s latest innovation.
- Volkswagen has rolled out a prototype for a compact mobile robot that has the power to turn any location into a charge point.
- Each robot brings a mobile energy storage device directly to the vehicle being charged.
- The robot is capable of locating and charging each vehicle autonomously, with no human interaction.
Robots and wagons
This device consists of two main components: a mobile robot and a trailer.
The robot charges your EV without the need for human interaction. (Photo: Volkswagen)
The mobile robot is capable of operating autonomously. It’s fitted with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors, and these innovations allow the robot to complete the charging process with complete autonomy. They also give the device the guidance it needs to recognize obstacles and travel freely in the parking area.
A mobile energy storage unit is connected to the trailer, and Volkswagen refers to it as a battery wagon. The robot brings this wagon to the vehicle and connects them; the wagon stays with the vehicle during the entire charging process, while the robot is free to move around and assist other vehicles. After the vehicle has been completely charged, the robot returns, collects the battery wagon and brings it back to a main charging station.
A versatile solution
“The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multistory 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”, says 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.”
Power to go
When fully charged, each battery wagon has an energy content of roughly 25 kWh. A single robot can transport several battery wagons at the same time. The robot can be summoned via app or V2X communication, and each battery wagon is set up to facilitate DC quick charging.
The robot and battery wagon are small enough to be used in restricted parking areas. (Photo: Volkswagen)
The robot and wagon are compact in size, and this allows them to be easily used in restricted parking areas.“The constructional work as well as the costs for the assembly of the charging infrastructure can be reduced considerably through the use of the robots,” says Möller. “Even the well-known problem of a charging station being blocked by another vehicle will no longer exist with our concept. You simply choose any parking space as usual. You can leave the rest to our electronic helper.”
WHY THIS MATTERS
As EVs gain wider acceptance, there will be a greater need for charging stations. VW’s charging robot seems like an effortless and cost-effective solution.