And here I've been parking and plugging in my own electric car like a sucker!
We have seen a number of organizations combine a robotic arm with a charging station. Tesla's snake-like concept garnered the most attention a few years ago. Although the impracticality of these set ups means we haven't really seen these ideas make it to market yet. The usefulness is limited for a stationary robotic charging arm.
Well unlike Tesla's example, this robotic arm from FANUC America is mounted to an autonomous vehicle base. Obviously this versatility creates a lot more use cases for such machinery.
According to the description of the vehicle on FANUC America Corporation's YouTube page:
At IMTS 2018 FANUC America demonstrates the super heavy payload capability of the FANUC M-2000iA robot, which is able to easily lift this complete Chevrolet Bolt vehicle efficiently and safely. This system also features autonomous vehicle charging via the flexible FANUC M-10iD/12 robot mounted on a Self-Driving Vehicle.
The robot moves a Chevrolet Bolt to a charging station and presents it to a FANUC M-10iD/12 robot mounted on a Clearpath OTTO 1500 Self-Driving Vehicle (or SDV). FANUC’s M-10iD Robot Series was designed to maximize productivity in compact workspaces.
The robot uses FANUC’s new 3DV/400 Vision Sensor to locate the car’s charging hatch.
The robot opens the hatch, removes a charging plug from the station and inserts it into the car. After charging is complete, the M-10iD/12 will return the charging plug to the station and close the hatch.
Why do I want something like this that I have absolutely no use for whatsoever?
Obviously, these robots are not intended for consumer level use. The large M-2000iA robot is for moving large payloads around manufacturing facilities with tight spaces. In the video, the arm picks up the Chevy Bolt EV, moves it across the room, and places it in front of a charging station.
Then, the smaller FANUC M-10iD/12 robotic arm mounted to a Self-Driving Vehicle drives up, opens the charging port door using a 3D vision camera, and guides the charging cord into the Bolt's charge port.
Sure, both are well suited for automobile manufacturing facilities. This type of machinery isn't too unusual in a factory setting. But the autonomous vehicle arm would also be perfect for electric vehicle fleets. Perhaps for a company with a fleet of self-driving cars about to hit the streets in large numbers? Or is it just a coincidence that a Chevy Bolt is showcased here?
Be sure to check out the video above. It might be an early peak into our autonomous charging future.