I’ll tell you what the most ridiculous thing about electric vehicle ownership is: charging. And it’s not even close. Right now, you have all sorts of different EVs with charge ports in different locations—the Hyundai Motor Group, which we’ll talk about in a second, has ports in three different places on various cars, by my count. Some of the ports are for an increasingly outdated standard, like CHAdeMO. And Tesla is just now opening its own proprietary chargers up to other cars, though that will take some time to be universal.
Basically, someone needs to standardize this stuff so that not every car has a different experience and doesn’t have to deal with awkward positioning at charging stations. Or we just outsource the whole thing to robots.
Somebody at Hyundai must think the latter is a good idea, because that’s exactly what it unveiled today ahead of the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show. Meet ACR, the automated charging robot. I’m going to call it ChargeBot for our purposes here because that sounds cooler. It kinda vaguely reminds me of Johnny Five.
Hyundai explains how it works in a news release:
Once the vehicle is stationary, the ACR communicates with the vehicle to open the charging port, calculating the exact location and angle through a camera mounted inside.
The robot then picks up the charger and fastens it to the vehicle’s charging port, thus starting the charging session. Once charging is complete, the robot removes the charger, returns it to its rightful place, and closes the cover of the vehicle’s charging port.
This is great because it means you shouldn’t ever have to get out of the car—an especially potent benefit to anyone who uses a wheelchair or has other types of mobility issues. The robot handles everything. And with today’s fast-charging EVs, you could pull up, hang out for 10 or 20 minutes, then drive off with enough miles to get you where you need to go. The robots also use 3D camera-based AI tech to make sure the port fits correctly.
I’ve tended to be a skeptic of many forms of car-related automation in my career (mainly because I seldom get proven wrong about this) but this seems like a fantastic idea. As someone who has fumbled around with chargers in dark, snow-covered locations in the dead of night—chargers placed in some afterthought parking lot sometimes next to a dumpster—I’d be more than happy to outsource the job to a machine. On the whole, charging is more annoying than filling up at a gas station. That will have to change someday.
Hyundai says Chargebot’s a real tough son of a bitch, too. Since almost all public charging is done outside, it’s built to be waterproof, dustproof and capable of operating in extreme heat or cold. It also has sensors to detect moving and stationary objects so it’s not taken out by unfortunate parking lot collisions.
It’s also worth noting that these days, the Hyundai Motor Group also owns Boston Dynamics, and this charging robot seems far more useful and less intimidating than those damn robot dogs that look like they’d give you trouble in a Metal Gear Solid game.
I’d add that it’s very likely we’ll see more charging robots or similar concepts like this one in the future. I think it’s less likely Hyundai will be manufacturing them or rolling them out themselves; the news release is cagey on the “who’s actually going to build these” front. But I do hope someone runs with this idea or a similar one.
Look at him go!
I don’t know if Jason will encounter ChargeBot on his drive of the new Ioniq 6, but I hope so. We need to get those two together soon.
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OMG, they finally made eX-Driver a reality:
Does no one remember hitchBOT? ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HitchBOT )?!? This thing would be kicked over and trashed within hours…
I think it’s very likely they would build them themselves, Huyndai has been making robots since 1984.
I skipped all that and went right to the future where this battery nonsense was solved by using a liquid battery that can be directly topped off by a wicked fast charger that delivered the energy directly out of a nozzle into this tank design that holds this liquid battery.
Every single vehicle from all manufacturers has the simple opening to accept the liquid fuel. Recharge times are almost instant. No robots needed because the energy is so dense that you can now go days if not weeks between recharges. Provides tons of excess heat too to keep people warm instead of dealing with a cold luke-warm EV heater that saps range.
I’m not going backwards.
ChargeBot not available in Philadelphia.
This is possible but it would be finicky in practice. Since it would only add to the unreliability of EV charging, this dream is best left in the pipe.
This could be a great way to share one fast charger between many cars if that robot could rotate/move between parking spots after each is fully charged. I’m not sure what the cost of such a robot would be compared to an additional 3 DC chargers, but it might help us roll out the many thousands of charging spots we’ll need to get close to the existing number of gas pumps out there. Have a few robots drop down from tracks in the ceiling and you could cover a whole garage while people work/shop/fly?
To me this sounds like its greatest advantage. Maximum productivity and saves some of the stress of being unable to use the charger even though its current occupant is full and waiting for its owner
Can they also give the robots tasers to shoot at the grifters that love to wander Wawa parking lots and knock on Tesla windows for bus fare?
A few years ago, engineers from across the world of automobile manufacturers agreed on a universal standard for wireless EV charging, just like phones. In tests, a vehicle was able to park over a charging pad and re-energize. The efficiency rate of 92% compared favorably to the 93% achieved via cables and connectors. So why are we still building cars with proprietary hardware for charging? Pulling into any charging station and into a parking spot over a charging pad then having to do nothing else that requires leaving your vehicle seems like a much nicer, safer way to accomplish a sometimes frustrating task. Does anyone have any recent updates on this initiative or seen any predictions as to when this might be rolled out?
I think you don’t understand the 92% efficiency of wireless power. 92% of the power supplied becomes available to the device receiving power wirelessly. That does not include the power loss of anything done by the device that is receiving the wireless power (like charging a battery).
Same with batteries you only store 92% of the power provided.
Time for a crude ASCII description showing cumulative power loss:
Traditional plug in car charging:
POWER—>PLUG —> 100% efficient –>Battery—>93% stored
Total efficiency 100×0.93=93% is stored in car battery.
Wireless charging of your car:
POWER—>WIRELESSPOWER—>92% efficient—>Battery—>93% stored
Total efficiency 93×0.92=85.6% is stored in car battery
So wireless charging is significantly less efficient that plugging in with a cord.
Never, your 92% isn’t measuring the right thing. Wireless chargers for phones waste something like half of the energy they take from the wall.
Maybe they should start on getting the existing chargers to actually function.
I get that ‘engineers gonna engineer’ but it seems like companies are hellbent on automating every single normal task that exists. I don’t really mind filling up gas or washing dishes or whatever to be honest.Getting sick of being treated like our entire purpose is to consume entertainment and spend money on products.
This. So much this. The future we’re being dragged into is one I want no part in tbh. I don’t want every little thing like this to be automated. I’m tired of media centered around selfish indulgence, because it makes people think work is something to be avoided as much as possible, when everything good in the world requires work. We complain so much that the world is unfair, that so many people lack basic necessities… and then when we get on our feet, and we finally have stability, we indulge in excess because the world trains us to, instead of using our own success to help others. There’s no reason we can’t make the world a better place if everyone makes an effort to help when we see someone who needs it… we just don’t.
Probably uses the same software as robotic milkers… Don’t let your cows anywhere near!
Thus is brilliant if done a different way entirely. Think robot arm on a portable charger. First you have a shed on every block. It stores and charges the charger when not in use. The EV owner gets home from work parks on the street or public parking garage. Pulls out his phone opens up the Tacodave charging app. Schedules charging from the portable charger before xam ar parking spot a. The mobile charger using math schedules charging based on etd drives to the parked EV plugs in the charger and charges the EV. The shed could have more than one charging robot or a spare charger to charge more EVs or to change and keep charging. The unit measures electricity used and bills the owners credit card, sends a receipt via email car is charged before owner returns, these could work in the daytime too, then the company sends Tacodave a commission and everyone is happy.
I think it’s nice that the robot from the movie Demon Seed found a new career.
Didn’t Tesla unveil some creepy snake looking motherfucker that was supposed to charge their cars? This was years ago, maybe I’m remembering it wrong, that company “unveils” so many things that never make it to reality so it’s hard to say for sure.
I remember what you’re talking about. Also, Shell created robot gas fillers years ago, but they never really got off the ground.
Unveiled, yes. Deployed, no.
Tesla gonna Tesla.
Volkswagen also made a friendly lil’ charging robot prototype that looked way less like something out of Elon’s “dystopian tentacle porn” folder: https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/press-releases/initial-contact-the-mobile-charging-robot-presenting-a-vision-6736
I remember that.I’m pretty certain they called it a concept ,and it wasn’t intended for production. That is ,they were honest about it upfront.
How often does that happen at tesla?!