Autonomous charging of electric vehicles with robotics: How it works
The electric vehicle (EV) market is scaling rapidly, requiring a timely roll-out of supporting charging infrastructure. Autonomous charging is key in setting up a reliable, safe and cost-efficient charging process. More specifically, robotics provide an essential contribution by automating the charging of standard EV connectors.
Autonomous charging will be a game changer for EVs
Keeping the electric fleet on the road and ready for the next shift is the number one priority for fleet managers. This is only possible through a reliable charging system. For unoccupied self-driving EVs, autonomous charging is even more essential to remain operational, as there is no driver present to connect the chargers.
Automating the charging of standard EV connectors results in the following benefits
- Reduction of charger downtime
- Improved user experience and safety
- More efficient use of charging site and assets
- Reduction of cable wear and tear
- Readiness for autonomous vehicles
Compared to manual charging, automating the process significantly reduces queuing. By eliminating 80% of the switch time, the throughput can be enhanced by 15%.
EVs have several solutions for automated charging, and the most well-known solutions are inductive and conductive underbody connections, pantograph charging systems, and battery swapping systems. All these systems require additional expensive parts in the vehicle.
But what if your EV does not need all these extra parts? What if you could automate the standard connector so that it could magically plug itself in? This is now possible, and it is called robotic charging or autonomous charging. In a robotic charging system plugging in and -out is performed by a robot. The robots use standard charging inlets; the user does not have to do anything in order to recharge the vehicle with energy. Furthermore, robotic charging avoids the necessity for the driver to handle the charging cables.
Robotic charging of electric vehicles: How does it work?
Drivers will only have to park their vehicles near charging stations versus manually. Once the vehicle is parked, the autonomous charging system will be activated. In the (near) future, we foresee that automated valet parking will be introduced in parking garages and at public charge port operators. The vehicles will park themselves; the driver or passenger does not need to be present during the charging cycle.
2. Plugging in and out
The electric vehicle communicates directly with the robot and autonomously opens its charge port cover. With an intelligent camera system, the robot can easily identify the vehicle’s charging inlet and chart a path for the connector to plug in. A robotic arm then gently and safely inserts the plug into the vehicle’s charge port. Once the vehicle is summoned to leave, the car will disengage the CCS lock, and the robot will plug out the connector and communicate to the car that it is safe to start driving.
We foresee that charging will start automatically using Plug & Charge or at the right moment via Smart Charging, both covered in the charging standards, ISO 15118. Robotic charging integrates with fleet management software, allowing an operator to have visibility of the system, remotely diagnose errors, and support the resolution of issues.
At Rocsys, we develop autonomous charging solutions for standard EV charging connections by combining AI-based computer vision, patented soft robotics, and remote services.
Interested in learning more about robotic charging? Check our Technology page or contact our experts.