German automaker Volkswagen is developing robots that will automatically charge electric vehicles (EVs) after they pull into a space in parking structures. It’s part of a collaboration between VW’s tech unit, Cariad, and developer Bosch to develop the “parking garages of the future.”
According to a report from Autoweek, these future parking garages will require vehicles to utilize Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 autonomous driving technology to drop off their drivers at the parking structure entrance before making their way over to a charging station where robots will charge them.
Automated Valet Parking
In addition to EV valet parking and robots charging them, the parking structure will also be part of “automated valet parking” by identifying an empty parking spot for the vehicle and guiding it there. Bosch is already equipping parking structures in Germany with this innovative technology. They expect automated valet parking to become a standard feature in all kinds of parking structures in the future, including airports. It’s a hassle-free option compared to the situation drivers currently have to deal with when cruising for a spot at most garages or airport long-term parking lots.
It’s a sentiment that Bosch’s Vice President of Product Area Cross Domain Parking Level Manuel Maier echoed when he said, “Automation plays a key role in the mobility revolution and the transition to electromobility. Our two services-automated valet parking and automated valet charging-make the mobility experience much smoother for users.”
That second service, “automated valet charging,” involves the charging robots approaching a vehicle needing a charge, opening the EV’s charging port, and plugging in the charging cable. When the car has completed charging, it will drive itself away from the charging station to an empty parking spot, where it will wait for its driver to summon it back to the garage entrance to pick them up.
According to Autoweek, Ford and property developer Bedrock are testing and developing similar parking technology in the United States. While all this may sound very cool, it’s essential to remember that it will be a while before SAE Level 4 autonomous driving tech is available on a wide scale. No business model is currently in place for this state-of-the-art convenience either. Like most things EV-related, it will likely be expensive.
Another innovative EV charging advancement is in the works from Stellantis and Ample. It involves a process they call Modular Battery Swapping, where an EV pulls up to a battery swap station that uses autonomous technology to swap out an EV’s depleted battery for a fresh one.