Robot charges car automatically

Riley Riley

If you’ve got an EV, you’ll know all about the rigmarole of charging the thing.

Finding a charger, finding one with a plug that fits and then waiting for the magic to happen, until it’s ready to hit the road again.

Enter stage left Hyundai’s life-changing automatic charging robot (ACR) for electric vehicles, the little guy that’s going to make your life a hell of a lot easier.

It’s a one-arm robot capable of automatically plugging a cable into an EV’s charging port, presumably of the Hyundai persuasion and removing it again once charging is complete.

Yeah, right . . . 

Don’t believe us? Then watch the video. A picture is worth a thousand words — moving pictures more so.

The new video of the real robot in action follows up on a CGI version released by the Group in July last year.

It features an Hyundai Ioniq 6 that parks autonomously at an EV-charging bay.

Once the vehicle is stationary, the ACR tells 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, 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.

Hyundai predicts that robots will support humans with EV charging in near future, overcoming accessibility issues and inconvenience for some EV drivers.

“The ACR will help to make EV-charging easier and more convenient, especially in dark environments,” Head of Robotics Lab, Dong Jin Hyun, said.

“It will also improve accessibility, particularly for people with mobility barriers, as charging cables become thicker and heavier to enable high-speed charging.

“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.”

The ACR is an example of Hyundai’s advanced robot technology.

It has considered diverse variables in developing the ACR, such as the parking location of the vehicle, the shape of the charging port, the weather, potential obstacles and weight of the charging cable.

In order for a robot to fasten a charger to the charging port securely, software technology that can simultaneously calculate these multiple variables is required.

To this end, an algorithm has been developed that applies 3D camera-based AI technology to robots, and next-generation control technology based on this application allows robots to accurately handle heavy chargers.

Given that most EV chargers are installed outdoors without cover, engineers built a bespoke outdoor electric vehicle charging station at its R&D centre and evaluated performance in various conditions.

As a result, the ACR has secured a waterproof and dustproof grade of IP65 and its performance has been greatly improved so that it can be stably operated even in extreme environments.

In addition, engineers have installed a safety pole with a built-in laser sensor around the robot to prevent possible accidents by enabling it to detect stationary and moving obstacles.

What happens if the robot scre=atches the car? That remains to be seen.

The Group expects automatic charging robots to significantly increase convenience of EV charging, and if combined with autonomous parking control systems in the future, can improve utilisation by sequentially charging several parked vehicles.

The newly unveiled ACR will be displayed at Hyundai’s exhibition booth at the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show, from March 31 to April 9.


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