The News Today
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11.16.18
Earth & Energy

Who’s Gonna Charge Autonomous EVs? Seems Like It Might Be This Robot.

August 15th 18__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Earth & Energy
TU Graz/VIctor Tangermann

HANDSFREE CHARGING. Electric vehicles (EVs) have a lot going for them. They’re better for the environment than their gas-guzzling predecessors; they can save nations billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Some even look pretty cool.

But EVs do come with a downside: charging them. Some vehicles can take up to 12 hours to fully power-up.

Now, researchers from the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) have created a system that charges much faster. And you don’t even have to manually connect it to your vehicle — the system’s EV-charging robot handles that process for you.

LET A BOT DO IT. On Monday, the TU Graz researchers shared images and a video of their EV-charging robot via a university news release. The robot uses cameras to detect the charging socket and autonomously connect to it. It works with all standard charging plugs and can even close the charging socket flap when it’s finished.

According to the news release, the robot can charge an EV “within a few minutes for longer driving distances,” (though no word on whether that would be fully charged from a dead battery or simply enough charge to continue on a journey).

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES, AUTONOMOUS CHARGING. Of course, doing any of the above wouldn’t be all that difficult for a person; we’ve been charging or pumping gas into our own vehicles for decades now (unless you live in New Jersey, but that’s a whole other story).

The real benefit of the TU Graz team’s EV-charging robot will come when autonomous vehicles (AVs) are the norm. An electric AV could just drive up and let the bot handle the rest.

While we wait for AVs, though, a number of researchers are looking into other outside-the-box EV-charging concepts, from roads that can charge EVs to wireless charging pads. We don’t know yet if any of these technologies will catch on in a big way, of course, but if nothing else, the TU Graz team’s approach deserves points for creativity.