Plugging your car into charge isn’t the worst job in the world, but it can still be a bit fiddly and annoying, especially when you’ve just parked up after a long drive and it’s a bit cold out. So why not let a robot do it for you?
Hyundai Motor Group has developed a new machine that does just that. The Automatic Charging Robot (ACR) is a one-arm machine that can plug a cable into an EV’s charging port, and then remove it again once full.
The ACR can pick up a cable, and using a 3D camera and clever Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology work out where the charging port is, open the cover and plug in. It can then repeat the process when the car is charged, going as far as closing the cover of the vehicle’s charging port.
Hyundai says that while the ACR might appear “deceptively simple”, it is the result of plenty of work by the firm’s Robotics Lab. The robot can operate in all weather conditions, and can adjust for vehicles parked in different ways, different sizes of charging port and cable of varying thickness.
The ACR has been tested at Hyundai’s R&D centre, which a special safety pole with a built-in laser sensor used to allow the robot to detect stationary and moving obstacles.
Dong Jin Hyun, the head of the Robotics Lab said that the new robot will “will help to make EV-charging easier and more convenient, especially in dark environments”.
He added that it could also improve accessibility by removing one of the major barriers to EV ownership for people with mobility barriers. He added: “We will continue developing the ACR for increased safety and more convenience, so that all EV customers can soon benefit from using it at charging stations.”
On display at the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show, the ACR could also be combined with autonomous parking systems to allow for far more efficient usage of EV chargers, by allowing for the robot-controlled sequential parking of several parked vehicles.
We have seen other automatic robot charging systems before, although they are usually portable units twinned with their own batteries. The ACR is designed instead to plug in a regular fast charger or similar.