VW's roving robot concept brings "battery wagons" to electric vehicles
A couple of years ago at its Future Mobility Day, Volkswagen Group showed a mobile robot concept that could autonomously charge up EVs by bringing the battery to the vehicle. Now the automotive giant has unveiled an updated version that is no longer an all-in-one unit, but allows the robot to tend to multiple vehicles at once.
The concept revealed in 2017 was essentially a big battery on wheels that could be maneuvered to an electric vehicle in need of a top-up. An arm on top of the robot would then plug the charging connector into the car to get the electrons flowing. The basic concept of a battery that comes to the vehicle remains the same in the new iteration, but the robotic arm and autonomous smarts have now been separated from the energy storage devices, which have been dubbed "battery wagons."
When prompted by a smartphone app or vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, the self-driving robot is able to autonomously make its way to a vehicle, bringing a battery wagon along with it. It then connects the battery wagon, which includes built-in charging electronics, to the vehicle to commence charging. The battery wagons support DC quick charging up to 50 kW, and have a capacity of around 25 kWh.
The splitting of the robot from the energy storage device allows the robot to attend to other cars without having to wait until a vehicle has finished charging. While this obviously requires multiple battery wagon units, costs are kept down due to the fact the autonomous navigation technology, which includes cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors, are restricted to the robot unit.
Volkswagen sees the mobile charging concept as a way to bring charging infrastructure to all spaces within parking facilities where it is uneconomical or unfeasible to integrate fixed charging infrastructure.
"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," says Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components. "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."