Charging Robots Volkswagen introducing automated charging concept
Volkswagen Group Components intends to support electromobility by implementing robots to provide a completely automated charging process and thereby make the search for a charging station obsolete.
The charging process can is initiated via an app or V2X communication; then, a mobile robot drives independently to the vehicle to be charged and carries out the charging process without further interaction. The power supply is provided by a portable energy storage device, in which the robot transports to the vehicle like a trailer. Fully autonomously, the robot opens the fuel filler flap and connects the energy storage device to the car. During the entire charging process, the mobile energy storage unit remains on the vehicle, while the robot can perform further charging processes on other vehicles in the meantime. When the charging process is complete, the robot disconnects the energy storage device from the car again and takes it back to a charging station.
"The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multi-story 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.
Research at Volkswagen Group Components uses various approaches in the field of charging infrastructure. The system presented will use an existing flexible, rapid charging unit and station infrastructure, which are part of a future family of charging devices. Currently under development is the charging robot, which connects the vehicles and the charging units.
Flexible and compact
The system consists of a self-propelled robot plus mobile energy storage units and a charging station for the portable battery units. The robots have arms that allow them to open the fuel tank flaps and establish the connection between the mobile energy storage units and the vehicle and also disconnect them again once the charging process completed. For safety reasons, autonomous robots are equipped with various sensors to detect obstacles and react to changing situations.
When fully charged, the mobile energy storage units can provide around 25 kWh each. When the charging process is initiated either manually by an app or automatically by V2X communication, the energy storage units are brought to the vehicle by a robot and connected. A robot can move several battery units simultaneously. The integrated charging electronics of the energy storage units enable DC fast charging with up to 50 kW.
Due to its compact design, the system is ideal for use in tight spaces without existing charging infrastructure, such as parking garages. "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." says Möller.
One element of a charging infrastructure initiative
A date for a possible market launch of the robot charging system has not yet been fixed. The Volkswagen Group plans to install around 36,000 publicly accessible charging points throughout Europe by 2025. Its wall box, the ID. Charger for charging on one' s private property, is to be launched onto the market soon. The IONITY joint venture, which VW co-founded, will install around 400 fast-charging parks on the most important European motorways over the next years. VW's medium-term goal is to make charging an electric car as easy as charging smartphones.