Automotive

VW's mobile EV-charging robot concept becomes a reality

VW's mobile EV-charging robot ...
The mobile charging robot prototype with plug at the ready
The mobile charging robot prototype with plug at the ready
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The mobile charging robot prototype with plug at the ready
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The mobile charging robot prototype with plug at the ready
The first glimpse of VW's mobile charging robot, with battery "trailer" in tow
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The first glimpse of VW's mobile charging robot, with battery "trailer" in tow
The mobile charging robot hooks the battery unit up to an EV
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The mobile charging robot hooks the battery unit up to an EV
Once the battery 'trailer" is connected, the mobile charging robot can tend to other vehicles or return to base
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Once the battery 'trailer" is connected, the mobile charging robot can tend to other vehicles or return to base
The mobile charging robot catches some e's back at base while the trailer unit charges a car
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The mobile charging robot catches some e's back at base while the trailer unit charges a car
The mobile charging robot can be triggered by an app or Car-to-X communication
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The mobile charging robot can be triggered by an app or Car-to-X communication
The mobile charging robot prototype's arm is extremely flexible
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The mobile charging robot prototype's arm is extremely flexible
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'Tis the season … for Volkswagen to bring us up to speed on its efforts to make charging electric vehicles a completely autonomous operation. A year ago, almost to the day, the automaker unveiled its mobile charging robot concept, and now, having spent the the past 12 months making the concept a reality, it has given us the first glimpse of the robot in prototype form.

To recap, VW's mobile charging concept consists of two separate but complementary modules; a "mobile energy device" trailer, which is essentially a big battery on wheels, complete with charger; and a mobile robot that can tow the trailer unit to a vehicle, plug in the charger, and leave the trailer there while it tends to other vehicles or goes back to base to await further orders. Once charging is complete, the robot retrieves the trailer and takes it back the charging station to be topped up.

The whole process, which is started either via an app or by Car-to-X communication, is completely autonomous.

The concept followed on from an all-in-one prototype that VW showed in 2017, but splitting the battery from the hardware and software needed to travel to the desired vehicle, open the charge flap, guide the plug to the charge port, decouple the plug when charging is complete and return to the charging station has obvious advantages in terms of cost reductions.

The mobile charging robot prototype's arm is extremely flexible
The mobile charging robot prototype's arm is extremely flexible

The system is designed to address one of the main barriers to entry for those considering the purchase of an electric vehicle – a lack of charging infrastructure. Although the number of charging stations around the world continues to rise, integrating them into existing structures such as underground car parks and restricted parking areas can be difficult and expensive.

The charging robot joins VW's flexible quick-charging station in attempting to overcome this problem. Being developed in partnership with Shanghai DU-POWER New Energy Technical Co., Ltd., in an effort to help expand the e-mobility market in China, the flexible quick-charging station is designed to be simple to set up almost anywhere and be moved easily. However, VW says it is working on a "complete DC charging family."

“Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector," says Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components. "We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions.”

Now that it's reached prototype stage, VW says it will continue further development of the mobile charging robot. Meanwhile, the flexible quick-charging station is scheduled to launch in 2021.

The mobile charging robot concept is demonstrated in the video below.

Volkswagens Mobiler Laderoboter | Volkswagen’s Mobile Charging Robot

Source: Volkswagen

View gallery - 7 images
3 comments
paul314
Another thing this does is flatten the demand curve for charging locations. Charge the batteries over time, then discharge rapidly, so that you don't need quite as big a feeder line. You could do that without mobile battery packs, but the mobility adds a cute factor and may improve efficiency just a tiny bit by minimizing wire length.
DaveWesely
The question one needs to ask is "How many BEV users are driving more than 100 miles to their shopping destination?" Without that distance, slow charging can be done at their home or hotel. This is a solution looking for a problem. Or a company generating some PR. Re: Paul, That is how all Cat 3 chargers work, they all use batteries.
michael_dowling
DaveWesely: This would be good for people living in apartments that don't have charging,or those who park on the street,who could get recharged during the workday.