Worrying about forgetting to charge your electric car will be a thing of the past if Continental's plans come to fruition, with the German automotive parts multinational teaming up with Volterio to simplify the charging process.

Continental and tech startup Volterio are teaming up with the aim of revolutionising electric vehicle charging by developing fully automated charging robots, with near-production-ready systems set to be revealed as soon as mid-2022.

The completely automatic charging system is simple in its operation, and comprises two separate units – one mounted to the underbody of the vehicle, and the ground unit which dwells garage floor.

When the vehicle is parked in the garage, the robotic ground unit automatically makes its way to the precise location under the vehicle using ultra-broadband communication where it can begin charging the vehicle using a physical connection.

The robotic ground unit of the automated charging system, with its conical charging connector visible.

The benefit of this autonomous and automated system is not only to prevent owners from forgetting to charge their vehicles, but so that parking in a precise position or at a particular angle isn’t required thanks to the robot’s ability to detect 30cm of ideal position deviation and its conical connector.

Using a physical connector, rather than wireless inductive charging, also means that far less energy is lost through the charging process, while it being located under the vehicle ensures the weather won’t inhibit the process either.

Continental also notes that this automated charging process looks forwards to a time when fully autonomous vehicles may be on our roads, as automated charging would need to be a component of their operation.

The system Continental and Volterio are currently developing is focused on use in private households, with it designed as a system that can be retrofitted to any electric vehicle, and with charging rating of 22kW AC. Future applications, proposed for parking garages and fleet management among other purposes, would look to be rated for 50kW DC.

The receiver unit mounted to the underside of the vehicle, which can be installed on any existing EV.

“Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more convenient and suitable for everyday use,” Dr Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, managing director of Continental Engineering Services, says of the system.

“With Volterio, we have the ideal partner for developing an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles. 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.”

Assuming the system meets all necessary certification requirements, Continental and Volterio look to start volume production of the system in 2024, with manufacturing taking place in Germany.

Patrick Jackson
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