Tech

Ford unveils a charging robot capable of plugging itself into your electric car

Ford today introduced a robotic charging station that automatically connects to an electric vehicle’s power outlet and initiates the charging process. Customers can simply use their smartphone if they don’t want to leave their car to plug in the cable.

Credit: Ford

If you’re an electric car owner, you probably know that one of the most annoying aspects of owning such a vehicle is having to charge it. Public chargers regularly break down or malfunction, and parking spaces are often inaccessible. Charging cables themselves can be heavy and inconvenient to carry and handle, especially for people with limited mobility.

Ford intends to correct this defect with its new robotic charging station prototype, called Ziggy, which drivers will be able to simply activate via their smartphone while seated in their electric vehicle. This technology could allow disabled drivers to stay in the car while charging, or simply let the robot do all the work.

The robot will automatically connect to your electric car to charge it

On the campus of the University of Dortmund, Ford demonstrated with a Mach-E its charger capable of connecting itself when a driver parks next to it and activates an application on his phone. The ordinary charging cable is integrated into a robotic arm who finds the charging station. This uses an on-board camera to find your car’s socket and connect to it automatically.

The charging process is then really very simple. The robot finds the car, plugs into it, then returns to a staging area to be recharged from the grid, solar panel or energy storage batteries. The automaker says that in the future, the charger could be installed in parking spaces for disabled drivers, in car parks and in private homes.

It’s not hard to imagine how it could be used beyond its original intent. A robotic loading arm could also be very useful for companies with fleets of electric vehicles, such as the rental company Hertz, which intends to order several thousand Teslas or the New York police who want to buy 250 Model 3s. Thanks to such a robot, drivers would no longer have to use specific parking spaces either for charging, since the robot will come to them.

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