In order to make electric cars more appealing to consumers, automakers have been experimenting with robotic chargers that automatically plug themselves into specific cars such as Volkswagens or Teslas. A new system, however, is designed to work with a wide variety of electric vehicles.

The system is part of the KoMoT project (Komfortable Mobilität mittels Technologieintegration, or "convenient mobility by means of technology integration"). It was developed by a team at Austria's Graz University of Technology, working with colleagues from BMW, MAGNA Steyr Engineering, the KEBA automation company, and the Austrian Society of Automotive Engineers.

Installed at an indoor or outdoor charging station, the setup incorporates several cameras that image vehicles as they pull up and park at that station. The cars do not have to be parked in a precise spot, and the system works under various lighting conditions.

By analyzing the images from the cameras, the high-capacity charger is able to identify the make/model of car, plus it can locate the vehicle's charging port and identify what type it is. It then extends a liquid-cooled charging plug of the appropriate type, and sticks it in. In some cases, a charge can reportedly be completed within a matter of minutes.

"For the first time we have found a way to automatically recharge several vehicles, one after another, using a robotic charging station, without the need to adapt the vehicles," says Bernhard Walzel, who is overseeing the research.

The system can be seen in action, in the video below.