Volkswagen is making a major play with electric vehicles. The company has launched the ID.3 hatchback in Europe, has a new ID.4 crossover arriving imminently in the U.S. and may have an incredible, super-aerodynamic wagon in store for us too. But VW is also working on other facets of electric vehicle adoption. The company has just announced an idea that could be a game-changer in that realm...and as a bonus, it involves cute robots.
VW's idea is for a mobile charging system operated by fully autonomous robots. The system would be controlled via an app or direct car-to-infrastructure communication. The robot would move between electric cars autonomously, opening charging ports and connecting and removing mobile charging units. It would operate in parking garages and other limited access parking areas.
The flexible quick-charging station is nearly production-ready. VW says it will hit the market in early 2021. That said, don't hold your breath; VW is still developing the robot's prototype and the system would require car-to-infrastructure communication advances to work as intended. The robot would have to be able to operate the system and avoid cars and pedestrians while doing so.
VW's system would allow for the rapid expansion of charging infrastructure, currently a few spaces in a garage if available at all. It would be completely cheaper than retrofitting current garages or reimagining parking infrastructure. It would also offer potential solutions for urban environments, where "home charging" of an EV often involves an open window and a very long extension cord.