American carmaker Ford has come up with an attempt to aid disabled or old-aged drivers with the challenge of car re-fuelling or charging an EV.
The OEM has developed a prototype robot charging station that can be easily operated by the drivers with their smartphones, while sitting inside the electric vehicle. The drivers can stay in the car while it gets charged or completely rely on the robot to get the work done. Ease of charging has essentially been a major consideration factor for drivers’ disabilities.
Currently, the robotic charging station is in the testing phase and is a part of existing research that is based on developing hands-free charging solutions for electric vehicles and fully automatic charging for autonomous vehicles. After the initial lab testing, the robot charging station is now put to test in real-life situations.
How does it work?
On activation, the station cover slides open and the charging arm extends towards the inlet with the help of a tiny camera. The FordPass app allows the drivers to monitor the charge status and once the vehicle gets charged, the arm retracts back into place.
Ford plans to install the robot charging station, custom-made by Dortmund University, in Germany, in disabled parking spaces, in car parks, or at private homes in times to come. This could also be extended to usage in fast charging of company fleets. The process later is ambitioned to become fully automated, which will require the driver to command the system and build an infrastructure ensuring it reaches and returns from its destination autonomously.
This research and trial will be eventually followed-up by the charging network provider Ionity, which will make further improvisations to the robot charging system.
The company is also researching robot charging solutions in combination with Automated Valet Parking, as demonstrated at IAA in Munich, Germany, last year.
Ford’s Blue Oval Charging Network provides customers with access to a network of over 300,000 chargers across Europe. To help drivers find charging stations and pay for charging, Ford Charge Assist can be accessed using the touchscreen of Ford’s Sync 4 connectivity and entertainment system.
For commercial vehicle customers, Ford Pro Charging offers charging solutions incorporating charging equipment, ongoing maintenance and management software.
The American carmajor recently joined 27 companies in a petition to ensure all new cars and vans in Europe are zero-emission from 2035 and called for targets to grow electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe to keep pace with electric vehicle growth rates.