VW Readies Prototype Car-Park Charging Robot

Volkswagen has released the first animation clip of its car-park charging robot concept it hopes to begin assembling as a prototype in the near future.

The concept of an R2D2-like autonomous charging robot was first announced in TU-Automotive at the end of 2019 with the automaker claiming each will be able to carry a potential charge energy of 25 kWh at any one time. Chinese automaker rival Aiways has also announced plans to develop a car-park charging robot in a bid to accelerate BEV uptake. In truth, VW’s new YouTube video adds nothing new to what we have previously been told about the concept apart from its production plans.

The concept is linked to the roll-out of charging stations with VW’s business unit currently working on a complete DC charging family. This flexible quick-charging station will be launched onto the market in early 2021. For several weeks now, the DC wallbox has been trialed at different company’s German production sites.

VW said the mobile charging robot has reached prototype status and will now be comprehensively further developed. It added that one of the prerequisites for market maturity is V2X communication to enable the autonomous charging process.
In view of the crucial importance of this issue, in future Volkswagen Group Components will be, among other things, responsible for all the automaker’s charging activities and charging systems. The intention is to integrate the charging robot into an overall concept that will focus on the long-term success of electric mobility.

Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Components’ CEO, said: “A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is and remains a key factor in the success of electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but is undoubtedly one of the most visionary. Our developments do not just focus on customers’ needs and the technical prerequisites of electric vehicles. They also consider the economical possibilities they offer potential partners.”

When operational, the charging robot, initiated via an app or V2X communication, is intended to operate totally autonomously. It plans to steer the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it, from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it.

To charge several vehicles at the same time, 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. Once the charging service has ended, the robot collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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