I’m all for carmakers really exploring new, novel, or, let’s face it, even downright weird ideas, so I’ll say I’m supportive of Volkswagen’s latest effort here, even if it is a sort of a more limited version of an idea I suggested over two years ago. It’s a robot that’s able to come to your EV to charge it, and it has a face that reminds me a bit of those floaty robots in that weird Disney Black Hole movie.
The robotic system seems to consist of two primary components: a mobile battery and a robot that handles the actual locating of the car, transporting the battery, and physically connecting and disconnecting the charging cable from the car.
Here, you can see it in action in this VW-produced video:
Note the friendly face on the robot, and the big (likely fake, just displayed on an LCD screen) eyes. They’re what sort of reminded me of this:
I’m not suggesting this is a negative thing, just something that popped into my head, and I felt you had a right to be made aware.
Conceptually, though, I guess this is really more like one of the GNK droids from Star Wars, though.
While I think any system that makes the process of charging an EV easier is a good thing, generally. Because of the considerable length of time it takes to charge an electric car, it makes sense to charge at any opportunity you can, and an automated system that can operate in an infrastructure that otherwise lacks charging options makes an awful lot of sense.
Of course, VW’s system isn’t exactly that. The animation shows a parking garage with installed equipment to house and charges a bank of both mobile batteries and robot attendants. I’m not sure if any of that would actually be more cost-effective than just wiring up a set of dedicated EV charging spots. Well, I may not be sure, but I have a pretty strong suspicion that just wiring up some EV charging spots would be much, much cheaper.
For this system to make real sense it needs to be far more mobile, and able to reach cars in places with zero EV charging support at all. You know, kind of like this:
Of course, the more I think about this, the more I think a smarter solution would be for automakers to agree on a universal charging port that would be located on the underside of the car, and very low, skateboard-like mobile battery packs would autonomously drive under the car to charge it.
Of course, that sort of setup leaves less room for a cute robot face, but I guess you could just re-watch The Black Hole if you really needed that sort of fix.