Published on December 27th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley0
Volkswagen Unveils Automatic EV Chargers For Parking Garages
December 27th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
One of the enduring conundrums for prospective EV buyers who live in apartment or condominium complexes is how to charge their spiffy new EV once they buy it. Many apartment and condo parking areas simply do nor have chargers available and the problem of connecting one directly to a resident’s electric meeting is, in many cases, a challenge without a solution.
In a press release dated December 26, Volkswagen says it has the answer — autonomous, robots that bring a battery to any car in a parking garage, plug it in, and recover it when charging is complete. The whole process is app-based and couldn’t be easier, at least in theory. The video below from Volkswagen explains things in terms so simple even an online blogger can understand what’s happening. (Any similarity to R2D2 or Wall-E is strictly coincidental, we presume.)
“The robot, which can drive autonomously, is fitted with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors. The combination of these systems not only allows the robot to carry out the charging process completely autonomously but also to move around freely in the parking area, to recognise possible obstacles and to react to these,” Volkswagen says. Each battery module contains a 25 kWh battery. The system could theoretically connect two or more batteries to any car during one charging session.
“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. It’s a visionary prototype which can be made into reality quite quickly if the general conditions are right,” says Mark Möller, head of development for Volkswagen Group Components. Here’s more from the press release:
The mobile charging robot can be put to use in various ways. It isn’t just a robot arm that connects a car to a fixed charging station. Instead, drivers have the choice to park in any available space, independent of whether a charging station is free or not. The robot brings the charging station in the form of a mobile energy storage device directly to the vehicle. For operators of different parking facilities this is a quick and easy solution to electrify every parking space. “This approach has an enormous economic potential”, says Möller. “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.”
The compact design of the charging robot is perfectly suited for use in restricted parking areas without charging infrastructures, such as underground car parks. Möller continues: “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.”
The mobile charger concept has not progressed much beyond the planning stage so far. But Volkswagen clearly understands that easy charging will be a prerequisite if it intends to sell millions of electric cars. Based on the state of autonomous driving technology, such a system operating at speeds of 10 mph or less in a defined space should be easy to do. There are no plans to implement the system at this time, but don’t be surprised if you hear Volkswagen has a prototype in operation in a parking garage in Berlin or Wolfsburg or Munich some day soon.
Automated, app-based charging may not be as sexy as rocket thrusters on all four corners of your hypercar, but they could go a long way toward making people feel comfortable owning and driving an electric car. Well done, Volkswagen.
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