The Volkswagen Group says it is developing 'mobile charging robots' which will autonomously ‘drive’ themselves to a car's location, open the socket flap and plug it into a compact charging device without any need for human interaction.
The robots are aimed at providing charging solutions in multi-storey and underground car parks where space is limited. New Volkswagen models equipped with the brand's latest V2X communication system will be able to request the services of one of these robots.
An alert can be raised via a mobile phone to notify the robot that the car needs to be charged and its location in the car park. Mobile robots will then transport a mobile energy storage device – known as a battery wagon – on a trailer to the car, open the charging socket flap, connect the plug to commence charging and uncouple it once the batteries have been replenished.
The chargers and robots are all stored on site in a dedicated area, ready for them to leap into action. When fully charged, the battery wagons are juiced with around 25 kWh each.
The battery wagon stays with the vehicle during the charging process while elsewhere the robot transports more battery wagons to other vehicles at the facility in need of recharging.
Once the charging service is complete, the robot retrieves the battery wagon and returns it to the on-site charging station, where it reconnects to the mains to boost it back to full capacity ready to repeat the service.
Mark Möller, head of development at Volkswagen Group Components which is designing the charging bots, said: “The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multi-storey car parks, parking spaces and underground car parks because it brings the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around.
“With this technology, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures. It's a visionary prototype, which can be made into reality quite quickly, if the on-site conditions are right.”
Volkswagen says the robot and battery wagons are currently only prototypes and won't give a possible date for when they might be put into action.