The German brand, which is about to launch its ID.3 electric car, says its mobile charging robot could make searching for an EV charging station a thing of the past by bringing the charger to the car in locations such as multi-storey or underground car parks.
It also promises the system could end the problem of ICE-ing, where an non-EV blocks an charging point.
The robot is summoned either by a driver’s smartphone app or using vehicle-to-X communication and can communicate independently with the car, opening the charging port and attaching and decoupling the charging cable without any human input.
Each robot can tow multiple “battery wagons”, each of which is equipped with a 25kWh power plant capable of DC charging at up to 50kW. After connecting a wagon to a vehicle, the robot moves on to the next car, returning once the charging is complete.
The autonomous robots, complete with what appear to be cartoony “faces”, are equipped with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensors to help them find their way around car parks without damaging any vehicles or running over any unobservant pedestrians.
Mark Möller, head of development at Volkswagen Group Components said: “The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multi-storey 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.
“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.”
Möller added that the robot system could be a far cheaper alternative for car park operators looking to add EV charging.
“This approach has an enormous economic potential,” he said. “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 mobile charging robot is currently a prototype developed by Volkswagen Group Components but Möller insisted that it could be made a reality quickly “if the general conditions are right”.