Automatic charging robot: Continental is changing the way electric cars are charged. Continental Engineering Services (CES), a research and manufacturing service provider for Continental, is working on an intelligent charging robot with startup Volterio that will make charging electric vehicles simpler and more pleasant in the future.
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Innovative technology for automatic charging
To that goal, CES and Volterio have announced a cooperation in which the latter will create the first near-production systems for the jointly developed charging robot by the middle of 2022. After CES has met all of the automobile industry’s certification requirements, it will advance the system to production maturity and eventually take over the charging robot’s manufacturing.
The system’s mass manufacturing is scheduled for 2024 and will take place in Germany. Continental Engineering Services’ strategic emphasis on sustainable technology and service solutions is once again highlighted by this remarkable breakthrough.
Intelligent charging solutions for electric cars, in particular, are critical stepping stones on the path to comprehensive, ecologically friendly, and long-term transportation.
How the automatic charging robot works
The completely automated charging method consists of two units: one in the vehicle’s underbody and the other on the garage floor. The two components link instantly as soon as the vehicle is parked, thanks to a sophisticated system that, among other things, uses ultra-broadband — a radio-based communication technique for short-range data transfer.
The automobile does not need to be parked precisely, which is a practical benefit. The charging robot compensates for up to 30 centimeters of departure from the optimal parking position. Furthermore, the angle at which a vehicle is parked in regard to the floor unit is unimportant.
The physical link between the floor and the vehicle unit has a conical shape that allows for any alignment and orientation between the components.
“Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more convenient and suitable for everyday use,” explains Dr. Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, managing director of CES. “With Volterio, we have the ideal partner for developing an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles. Through this cooperation, we are combining the creativity and flexibility of a young start-up with the development experience and automotive expertise of Continental Engineering Services.”
“With Continental, we have the perfect partner at our side to industrialize our automated charging technology and achieve success in a growing market,” explains Christian Flechl, managing director at Volterio. “Continental has the necessary production capacity and scaling capabilities.”
Both businesses have previously conducted parallel and independent research on comparable charging robot technologies. Both partners complement each other in this new collaboration, allowing a solution appropriate for daily electric mobility to be created swiftly and made accessible to clients who are already interested.
Benefits of the innovative technology
The new technology has a lot of advantages. For starters, the energy is transferred through a physical connection, just as it is in traditional charging stations. This implies that, unlike wireless inductive charging through a magnetic field, while filling up with the charging robot, very little energy is wasted. As a result, this solution is especially long-term and cost-effective.
Furthermore, owing to robot technology, charging is a breeze. Users no longer have to worry about any part of charging, such as managing bulky, possibly contaminated, or rain-soaked charging wires in restricted garages, as they do with charging stations. The charging procedure is entirely automated.
Furthermore, ultra-broadband communication between the ground and vehicle units guarantees that the car and charging robot are aligned with centimeter accuracy prior to charging – the user may park casually since the system does not need precise parking. In addition, the system is simple and fast to set up.
The floor unit, for example, may be easily put on the garage floor or fastened down. Technology currently provides what will be required in the future: automated charging solutions will be a part of regular automotive life if cars travel entirely autonomously and park themselves in parking garages.
Initially, the unique charging system will be available for use in private residences with a 22 kW alternating current rating. The solution is a retrofit, which means it may be installed in current car model versions.
A rapid charging solution for public spaces that can be retracted into the ground, such as parking garages, fueling stations, or manufacturing facilities with a charging capacity of more than 50 kW direct current, will be developed in a second stage. This also contains relevant variations, such as for commercial vehicle fleet management.