ROCSYS, Grivix and VDL ETS cooperate in the development of robotic fast charging.
ROCSYS, supplier of plug-in robots; Grivix, supplier of automated high-power vehicle inlets and VDL ETS, charging test and validation partner, work together to develop a robotic charging solution for Heavy Duty Charging under the granted Eurostars project Autocharge. After completing this development, an e-truck or e-bus can automatically ask for a charge, the inlet cover opens and closes automatically, and the innovative robot ensures that the CCS plug - or even the announced MCS plug - is securely plugged into the vehicle allowing a fully automated fast charge of its battery. The entire system will be able to handle the expected higher MW+ powers in the near future.
Changing logistics by reduction of charging time
Driven by CO2, NOx and airborne particulate matter reduction and by ever-increasing demands for more performance and lower total cost of ownership, e-mobility is changing fast. The change is already visible on the road for buses and cars and is arriving in the truck market too. The power demand of an electric heavy duty vehicle is significantly higher than the power used by electric passenger cars. A reduction in charging time is essential to reach the required uptime for profitable use-cases, where every minute counts. The innovations developed in the cooperation, supports the demand for high operational efficiency of the vehicles as well as a good business case for the charging utility operations. The Autocharge consortium aims to achieve these cost reductions and performance gains through complete automation of the charging sequence and achieving a high power flow to the vehicle with active thermal control.
Open standards and charger availability
With the massive adoption of EVs, the waiting time at charging stations is increasing. Waiting time is not only annoying for the customer, but also expensive and should be limited as much as possible while the reliability of the charging process must be high. Additionally, manually operated charge cables can drop on the floor, and vehicles could drive over the cables and connectors. The result is downtime of the charger that could have been avoided.
Moving from manual cable handling by human operators to a robotic solution with smart charging communication will assure that the energized coupler is never accidentally decoupled, thus improving the business case of fleet operations even further.
Charging infrastructure benefits from interoperability based on standardization. Although several organizations benefit from robotization of EV charging already, the consortium believes in, and contributes to, open standards like IEC and ISO. Learnings from this cooperation will be shared in the various standardization meetings. These learnings include inlet position and orientation, and interoperability around communication between EV and infrastructure. Automatic inlets and charging robots are entering the market already, but when automatic charging is fully standardized, charging infrastructure owners can more widely adapt and roll out this technology in other applications.
Scope and Timeline
The consortium will start validation tests with the first samples, including parking guidance and self-opening flaps, later in 2021. The implications of high-power charging will be investigated, and new technology will be developed to offer the highest possible plug charging power with an automated connection. Depending on the standardization committees' developments, a solution for automated megawatt charging MCS is expected from 2022 onwards.