Volkswagen has announced a strategic partnership with automation specialist KUKA for the development of a robot-supported charging connection. KUKA is already (mostly) known as the robotics supplier for the Tesla Model 3 production line in Fremont, California.
The idea of an having automatic connection between the vehicle and charging station isn't new, and even Volkswagen did some experiments few years ago (see video below).
However, with autonomous cars coming, there is now also a need to charge them autonomously (with the other, and likely more sensible option, being wireless charging).
It will be interesting to see the results of the VW and KUKA partnership, but even taking into consideration if a new, viable solution is found, it will need a new standard to go along with it. Not such an easy thing to establish.
"Autonomous automobiles and service robots are two subsidiary aspects of mobility in the future. These aspects will be analysed jointly through the strategic partnership."
"The new cooperation links up with an existing joint research project looking into collaboration between human and robot. The e-smart Connect project includes a practical and user-friendly solution for charging high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles produced by the Volkswagen Group. This involves a KUKA robot independently connecting up the vehicle with a charging station in a specially developed application. The driver simply has to position the electrically powered automobile in a designated parking space. The robot takes care of connecting up the charging cable for the driver."
Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen AG, Matthias Müller said:
"We are working intensively on structuring the mobility of tomorrow. This is not simply about innovative vehicle concepts but encompasses completely new requirements in the service sector,"
Till Reuter, Chief Executive Officer of KUKA AG said:
"In future, robots will support humans in many routine tasks. And everyday life in future will be inconceivable without autonomous driving. We will work together on innovative concepts in order to shape this future,".
Head of Research and Development at the Volkswagen Group, Ulrich Eichhorn said:
"Autonomous vehicles will contribute to making mobility safer, simpler and more convenient. This includes innovative services associated with the automobile. Our aim is to use the new strategic partnership to develop other opportunities in this area."