Tyre maker and automotive technology giant Continental and start up Volterio are hoping to revolutionise electric vehicle charging by developing an intelligent charging robot that will make filling up with electricity much easier and more convenient in the future.
To this end, Continental Engineering Services (CES) and Volterio have now officially entered into a partnership that will see the latter develop the first near-production systems for the jointly designed charging robot by mid-2022.
With CES meeting all necessary certification criteria of the automotive industry, it will then also develop the system to production maturity and ultimately take over the production of the charging robot.
Volume production of the system is planned for 2024 and will take place in Germany. The innovative development once again underscores Continental’s strategic focus on sustainable technology and service solutions.
The fully automatic charging solution comprises two components: one unit in the underbody of the vehicle and another on the garage floor. As soon as the car is parked, the two components connect automatically via a smart system.
The platform, which among other options is controlled via ultra-broadband – a radio-based communication technology for short-range data transmission, provides a practical advantage too, in that the car does not have to be parked accurately.
The charging robot corrects for deviation of up to 30cm from the ideal parking position. In addition, it is irrelevant what angle a vehicle is positioned in relation to the floor unit.
The conical design of the physical connector between the floor and vehicle unit permits any alignment and orientation between the units.
“Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more convenient and suitable for everyday use,” CES managing director Dr Christoph Falk-Gierlinger explained.
“With Volterio, we have the ideal partner for developing an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles,” he added.
“Through this cooperation, we are combining the creativity and flexibility of a young start-up with the development experience and automotive expertise of Continental Engineering Services.”
Volterio managing director Christian Flechl described Continental as the perfect partner to industrialise its automated charging technology.
The new technology offers many benefits. For one, the energy flows through a physical connection, just as it does in conventional charging stations. This means that – unlike wireless inductive charging via a magnetic field – hardly any energy is lost.
This makes this solution particularly sustainable and efficient. Unlike charging stations, users no longer have to worry about any aspect of charging, such as handling heavy, potentially contaminated or rain-soaked charging cables in confined garages.
The charging process runs completely automatically, and communication between the ground and vehicle units via ultra-broadband ensures that the vehicle and charging robot are aligned prior to charging with centimetre precision.
The system is also straightforward and quick to install. For example, the floor unit can simply be placed on the garage floor or bolted down. In its initial form, the solution will be offered to private households with a suitable rating of 22kW alternating current.
As an added bonus, the solution can be retrofitted to existing EVs. In a second step, a fast charging solution for public areas that can be retracted into the ground will be developed, delivering 50kW direct current.