Continental, Volterio develop charging robot for private garages
The planned charging solution is initially intended for private garages and consists of two components: a unit on the underbody of the vehicle and a unit placed on the garage floor. As soon as the car is parked, both components connect via a smart automatic system that is controlled by means of UWB communication technology, which allows for particularly precise location determination. An advantage suitable for everyday use: the car does not have to be parked accurately. The loading robot corrects up to 30 centimetres deviation from the ideal parking position. For this purpose, it is irrelevant at which angle a vehicle is positioned in relation to the ground unit. A conical design of the physical plug-in connection between the ground unit and the vehicle unit allows any positioning alignment in a full 360-degree radius, promises Continental.
The development of the loading robot incorporates the results of earlier research; the two companies had previously researched similar loading robot solutions in parallel and independently of each other. Within the terms of the cooperation, the two partners are now complementing each other, so that a solution corresponding to everyday electric mobility can be developed quickly.
The planned design offers advantages. For example, the energy flows via a physical connection, just as it does in conventional charging stations. This means that hardly any energy is lost with the charging robot – in contrast to wireless inductive charging via a magnetic field. This makes this solution particularly sustainable and resource-saving.
Charging with the help of robot technology should also be rather convenient, promises Continental. Unlike today’s charging stations, users no longer have to worry about anything. The charging process runs completely automatically. The communication between the ground and vehicle units via UWB ensures that the vehicle and the charging robot approach each other with centimetre precision – so the user can park relatively casually, the technology forgives deviations. The system is also uncomplicated and quick to install. The floor unit, for example, can simply be placed on the garage floor or screwed to it.
Vehicle and ground unit (left)
With this development, Continental is already thinking about future mobility scenarios: When vehicles drive fully automatically in the future and also park themselves in multi-storey car parks, automated charging solutions will become necessary on a larger scale.
For use in private households, a version with an output of 22 kW AC is available. The solution is “retrofit”, which means that it can also be retrofitted in existing model variants of vehicles. In a second step, a fast-charging solution that can be retracted into the ground is being developed for public spaces, for example in multi-storey car parks, filling stations or on company premises with a charging capacity of more than 50 kW DC. This also includes corresponding variants for fleet management of commercial vehicles, for example.
Continental has entered into a partnership for the project through its development service provider CES (Continental Engineering Services) and Volterio. CES fulfils all the necessary certification criteria of the automotive industry. Series production of the system is planned for 2024 and will take place in Germany.