Increased Electric Car Charging Convenience
One of the many advantages of switching from gasoline to electric is convenience. Electric car drivers no longer have to visit gas stations, and instead can plug in at home or work for the majority of their charging needs.
But, for drivers that don’t have a dedicated charger in their parking spot in shared accommodation such as an apartment or condominium complex, or for charging in large parking garages which may have a limited number of chargers, charging can be inconvenient. While it’s easy to monitor when a charger is free through a smartphone app, drivers may have to go back to their car to relocate them to a charger. Which is why Hyundai is the latest auto manufacturer to develop an automated charging robot.
Designed to operate reliably in all environments, regardless of charger location, as well as in poor weather and around potential obstacles, Hyundai’s automated charging robot is designed to support EV charging in the near future, overcoming accessibility issues and inconvenience for EV drivers. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the robot can find its way to an electric vehicle, open the charge port, and plug in without any human intervention.
EV Charging Robots Will Communicate with the Car
The Hyundai charging robot features a one-arm design, that is capable of plugging a cable into an EV’s charging port and removing it again once charging is complete. Designed, at least from the start, specifically for Hyundai vehicles, it has the ability to communicate with the car to open the charging port, and then is able to calculate the exact location and angle to plug in thanks to a built-in camera. It’s even able to pick up a charging cable before connecting it to the vehicle’s charging port to start the charging session. Once charging is complete, the vehicle is able to notify the robot, which can remove the charger, return it to its rightful place, and cover the vehicle’s charge port.
While it seems simple at first glance, the automated charging robot is very complex, and required years of research and engineering to develop. Hyundai's robotics lab considered a diverse range of variables in developing the robot, such as the parking location of the vehicle, the shape of the charging port, the weather, potential obstacles and weight of the charging cable, which can be substantial for high-speed Level 3 DC chargers.
In order for the robot to securely connect the charger to the charging port, on-board software simultaneously calculates multiple variables and angles. A custom algorithm applies 3D camera-based AI technology, and the robot is built tough enough to handle even the heaviest charging cables and connectors.
Built for Extreme Environments
Unlike the recently-unveiled home charging robot, shown by the Ram brand at the Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai's charging robot is designed for shared environments.
Since many public EV chargers are installed outdoors and without cover, Hyundai’s engineers built an outdoor charging station at its research center to evaluate the robot’s performance in various conditions. As such, the automated charging robot has a waterproof and dustproof enclosure, and it can be safely operated even in extreme environments. Engineers even installed a safety system with a built-in laser sensor around the robot to prevent accidents by enabling it to detect stationary and moving obstacles.
Hyundai thinks that not only will its automated charging robot make EV charging faster, easier, and more convenient; it should also improve safety, security, and accessibility. The company notes that the robot would be especially effective in darker environments, and for users with mobility barriers, who find it difficult to use the thicker, heavier charging cables that come with high-seed chargers. Combining automated charging robots with the increasing availability of autonomous parking in vehicles will also improve charging utilization by allowing the robot to sequentially charge multiple vehicles.