Tesla showcased a robotic electric vehicle charger in 2015, but Electrify America is gearing up to actually deploy them.
As part of an agreement with Stable Auto, the companies will install robotic chargers for autonomous electric vehicles at a demonstration site in San Francisco, California.
Set to open early next year, the charging site will be fully autonomous just like the electric vehicles that will recharge there. The facility will feature 150kW DC fast chargers and robotic arms that use Stable’s technology.
The companies didn’t say much about the robot, but it apparently features multiple sections that can twist and move. The robot’s ‘hand’ holds an electric charging cable, while a side-mounted camera is used to help connect it to the vehicle.
As the companies explained, “vehicles can park themselves anywhere inside a standard parking space, and Stable’s robot will automate the connection between the vehicle and the charger.” The companies said the process is designed to occur when no operators are present, so it appears the robot will also be to open the door to provide access to the vehicle’s charging port.
Stable will manage the project, but Electrify America will “evaluate the hardware, network, operations and billing of its charging systems to best suit autonomous charging fleets.”
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In a statement, Electrify America’s director of infrastructure planning and business development said “Autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of driving, particularly with fleets, and tailored charging options for self-driving EVs will be critical to develop that effort.” Wayne Killen went on to say “We’re excited to partner with Stable to be at the forefront of learning more and developing those charging solutions.”