Tesla’s Robotic “Let’s Get It On” Charger – Video


In the words of Tesla CEO Elon Musk (via Twitter):

“Tesla Snakebot autocharger prototype. Does seem kinda wrong :)”

And because most of us had this sort of idea in the back of our minds when we first saw video of the robotic charger in action yesterday…

"Let's Get It On"

“Let’s Get It On”

Categories: Charging, Tesla


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28 Comments on "Tesla’s Robotic “Let’s Get It On” Charger – Video"

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Or how about Peaches and Herb: Reunited?

Nah. We need something more hard core, like AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. 😉

Dirty Deeds is certainly a much better song.

This stuff is getting weird. Autonomous cars being ‘attached’ to robotic chargers.

Reminds me of some bad SciFi.

Why did I dare think of this happening to the Nisssan LEAF!

Seems to work pretty good.

Ultimately, I think this is the way at least the higher power charging facilities will work, since the cost of implementing a mechanical arm is relatively independent of the charging rate, whereas wireless solutions tend to hide their ratty ‘dirty laundry’ electrical loads by being small, as for instance the otherwise very workable 3.0 kw solution for the Volt.

Ron Jeremy has competition!

How can this be better than wireless? Once we all go electric, are we going to see those all over the parking lots, open to vandals, rain, snow, ice? I can’t wrap my head around this snake. It’s all cool and all but it does not solve any problem at all, on the contrary, it adds mechanical components to the EV world when we want to get rid of most mechanical components in cars. I can see this being usefull on Superchsrgers for people who travel a lot and use huge amount of energy,compared to wireless with the 12% loss that comes with it, i get that, but, for the vast majority of us who travel less then 50 miles a day, a few pennies worth of energy loss per charge is meaningless, really. Embeded universal wireless at public or private parking spaces with onboard guidance system IS the most probable outcome in a future EV world. The snake may be part of it for long highway travel, but not for everyday, everywhere opportunity charging while you do your groceries. As far as i know, all electric or electronic equipement waste energy, that’s accepted. Just touch your set top cable… Read more »

I don’t think Elon rejects wireless charging. Go to the 4 minute mark.

Elon Musk’s Answer To Stephen Colbert’s Vision Of Ambient Wireless Charging: “We’ll Do It

60 imp. gallon as 89 watt of latent heat.
Or 780 kWh for the whole year.
A Volt would use about 34kWh per 100 miles.
So 6800 kWh for 20 000 miles and 10% of that would be loss in inducting charging, wich is in fact a bit less than a 60 imp gallons hot water tank.
But, waste being a part of our everyday life, it’s up to individual to consider if it’s something meaningful or just a tendency of ours that as lead us to such a mess.

Agreed – wireless is the future – it looks cool and is a slick bit of engineering, but WTF?!?

This arm is very similar to Festo’s elephant trunk robot. Festo has several other robots that mimic animals.

And here’s another video w/more detail on how it works (and why it’s safe for humans to be around it).

Linked to the 3m 42sec mark

Once you go Electric, you’ll never go BACK!

I just took my Smart ED in for the 2 year maintenance ($430 by the way, RIP OFF) and they gave me a loaner gas smart and my god is it horrible.

Absolutely no pick up, no umphhh, no acceleration, i honestly feel vulnerable driving it. There’s just no power. And its really loud and i notice all the vibration.

My electric Smart is so quick, quiet and smooth, its literally 1000000% night and day comparison.

Could be worse. Could have the plug in the same location as an old Mustang…


If it works by compressed air, like the “elephant trunk” arm in kdawg’s video, then that would certainly bring the price and complexity down a lot.

OTOH it seems that would make it a lot weaker (than using a robotic arm with built-in servo motors) when it comes to moving a thick, stiff, heavy charging cable around. So that might work well for the relatively thin power cords used for slow charging, but I’m not sure about Superchargers, let alone future ultra-fast-chargers which will need to carry even more current.

You can see the pneumatic manifold and air lines in the Tesla setup.

Weaker = good when humans are present. As long as it’s strong enough to do the job, is all you need. Air pressure is powerful, especially once you get up to 60, 80, or over 100PSI.

You have to remember that just 30-35 psi of compressed air in your tires supports the entire weight of your vehicle.

Compressed air can be designed to be as strong or as weak as you want it to be based upon what the structure is you are pumping the air into.

Sure; the mechanical force of compressed air is not the issue. The issue is leverage at the mid-point or end of an arm. With a “snake” or tentacle, there is no fulcrum to anchor leverage anywhere along the length. A rigid skeleton gives vertebrates (like humans) great advantage in using muscles with lever advantage. Compare to an octopus, which collapses helplessly under its own weight when out of water.

With a rigid sectioned arm, you could certainly use air pressure to move the joints. That might, again, be cheaper than a typical robotic arm powered by servos.

A tentacle is just weak, period, for anything other than constriction or pulling straight back to its anchor point.

kdawg argues that we want something weak, in a setting where it might accidentally push against a person. Perhaps so, but if we’re thinking ahead to the future when ultrafast charging will require something carrying more current than a Supercharger cable, we’re going to need a robotic arm which is stronger than the average human arm.

Compressed air is prone to leaks. That’s why we rarely see pneumatic actuators in consumer goods.

Tesla’s arm most likely uses cables around the central cable. You can see an array of motors at the bottom.

There does appear to be a cable retracting if you watch it full screen.

Bjorn is up to 9 referrals…. go Bjorn go

In looks kinda like a commercial, I wish I had money.

Still more and more convinced the future is not wireless or a snacke charger but simple secured contacts on a bumper touching contacts under the front of the car. 100% efficient, no robotics, no human intervention, high power hypercharge able, very cheap.

That would require the car to be positioned very precisely; even more precisely than is necessary for wireless charging. How would such a setup work? Will every parking place equipped for charging need tire/wheel guides (as in an automated car wash) and a bumper stop, to position the car’s nose precisely?

Interesting concept, I’d like to see it tested for practicality. One problem I foresee is that contacts located on the underside of the car would collect dirt and mud. Putting the charge contacts on one of the sides of the car (including the front/back side), behind a small door, keeps them clean.

Actually I would make quiet large contacts of about 10 cm each and 30 cm apart, so there is some position freedom.
Alternatively some other people have come up with other conductive systems like this one:

For the question of dirt on the contacts, the scrubbing is going to take care of that very much like earth friction makes the iron of a ploug shinny.

Just like the ‘back to the future 2’ robot gas station attendant

Doesn’t look to me that the segments are compressing or expanding so probably not air-based. 3 or more cables anchored at the head and variably tensioned appropriately at the base, all working against each other, could do it.

More interestingly, tho, how does the head know where its going? Camera? MW