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The robot that charges automobiles in the blink of an eye

Who came up with it? In this case, the Austrians: TU Graz and partners from industry have presented the prototype of a robot-controlled quick charging system for e-vehicles. It should speed up the charging process significantly.

27 Aug. 2018
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The robot that charges automobiles in the blink of an eye (Photo: FTG - TU Graz)

With the growth of the market for vehicles with an electric engine, the demands on the charging infrastructure have increased: the faster and easier, the better. The wired robot system developed by scientists from TU Graz in collaboration with BMW, Magna Steyr, Keba and the Austrian Society of Automotive Engineers, meets these criteria. And most importantly: the charging system has been designed for standard connectors and no modifications are required on the e-vehicle.

Here’s how it works. The robot is equipped with cameras, by means of which it detects the charging sockets of the various vehicles. They drive into the charging station in succession and are charged up automatically. It also works if the car is not parked properly. Even variations in lighting conditions in buildings or outdoors should not affect the robot, according to the researchers. The aim of the system is to facilitate automatic fast charging of e-vehicles with high charging capacities, providing them with enough energy for longer journeys in just a few minutes. New, liquid-cooled plugs and cables are used for this.

The invention could help to solve a problem that (not only) Germany is currently facing: the sale of e-vehicles is increasing, but the development of charging stations is making only slow progress, reports the “Handelsblatt” . In turn this could deter many people from buying an e-automobile. According to the report, there are currently around 5,000 public charging stations with around 20,000 connections, and an additional 70,000 charging points in private homes and businesses. The Federal government had originally planned to make at least an additional 100,000 charging points for electric vehicles available by 2020.