In context: As electric vehicles become more common and affordable than ever, companies have begun turning their attention to newer, faster, and more efficient methods of getting those vehicles juiced up. For Volkswagen, that means a new prototype robot that can autonomously navigate to and charge EVs in a parking area upon request.
The robot doesn’t have a name yet, so Volkswagen just refers to it as the “mobile charging robot,” which is practical enough, we suppose.
It’s a large, tower-shaped bot with two chibi-style eyes emblazoned on its front-facing screen. The robot is designed to be used in “restricted parking areas,” like underground car parks or above-ground parking garages.
When deployed in such an area, the bot will travel to a vehicle, open up its “charging socket flap,” and then connect its charging plug. If there are multiple vehicles in need of charging in a given garage, the bot can cart around a mobile energy storage unit.
It will plug this device into a vehicle while it continues searching the garage for other cars that might be running low on battery power.
To be clear, drivers will first need to initiate a top-up request from their smartphones before the bot will charge their vehicles. This may allow Volkswagen to commercialize this tech in the future via paid charging requests, but it also gives consumers an easy way to opt-out if they’d prefer to handle charging themselves.
You can see how the bot works in the pre-rendered video above. We don’t have any real footage of the tech in action, so we can’t say for sure how far off Volkswagen is from achieving its vision, but the idea is interesting, and surprisingly practical. EV usage continues to grow, and traditional charging stations may not be able to keep up with demand, so this is a smart alternative.