Perhaps the biggest obstacle to electric vehicles (EV) everywhere in the United States, it is the lack of charging infrastructure. Since most electric vehicles have a much longer range than the average American driver in a typical day, it is possible for many people to use one as their daily driver and simply charge at home. . But when the infrastructure improves and it is possible to recharge in more places, autonomy becomes less of a concern.
But building charging infrastructure in car parks and parking lots not originally designed for this is hard work. This requires laying a lot of new electric cables and installing new charging stations. Unless that’s not the case. Volkswagen came up with a simple solution that even works in old parking lots, where the job of installing new infrastructure is daunting. The idea is that charging stations are on the move. By them selves.
VW calls them mobile charging robots. The heart of the system is… well… that’s adorable.
Drivers would use an app, after parking, to tell the system that their EV needs recharging. A small square robot on wheels, with digital eyes and a single articulated arm, then tows a rolling battery unit and plugs it into the car. When the car is full, the rolling battery signals to the robot, which collects the battery and plugs it in to recharge for the next use.
Oh, and the robot gives adorable beeps and boops all the time.
You could call it a sleek engineering solution. It allows parking garage owners to use a footprint equal to one parking space to store equipment that can charge a dozen electric vehicles at a time. And the setup requires that the wires run in one place rather than several.
VW claims the system has “successfully reached prototype status,” although so far we’ve only seen digital renderings and animated video.