Ford Debuts Robot Charging Stations for Disabled Drivers
Ford recently developed and revealed a new prototype robot charging station that drivers can operate remotely via their smartphone from the comfort of their electric vehicle. This prototype has the potential to support disabled drivers, letting them stay in the car while it hooks everything up to charge, or they could leave the car while the robot efficiently and autonomously gets to work.
The company stated that it’s important to note that disabled drivers have already discussed and prioritized ease-of-charging as a benefit to purchasing electric vehicles. Ford is giving the robot charging station a real-world trial as part of a research project to develop hands-free charging solutions for electric vehicles and fully automatic charging for autonomous vehicles.
After initial lab testing, Ford researchers are confidently putting the robot charging station to the test in real-life environments. Once installed and activated, the station cover opens up and the charging arm extends towards the EV inlet via the aid of a tiny camera. After charging, the arm is designed to retract back into place. Ford also noted that the technology could also support more powerful charging to charge vehicles in a much shorter time.
In the future, the robot charging station, custom-made by Dortmund University in Germany, could be installed at disabled parking spaces, in car parks or at private homes. Looking to the future, the whole automated and remote charging process could become fully realized, with minimal or even no driver involvement required. Drivers could simply send the vehicle to a charging station, with the infrastructure ensuring it reaches and returns from its destination all on its own.
This ongoing trial complements Ford’s dedication to electrification. The company’s fast-growing Blue Oval Charging Network supports customers with the most charging stations in North America and over 300,000 across Europe. To help drivers find charging stations and pay for charging, Ford Charge Assist can be accessed using the touchscreen of Ford’s SYNC 4 connectivity and entertainment system.
To help electrified commercial vehicles, Ford Pro Charging offers deluxe charging solutions that include charging equipment, ongoing maintenance, and management software that helps reduce time-consuming paperwork and charge schedule planning.
The company believes a unified approach encompassing governments, European Union institutions, the entire auto industry, energy providers, local authorities and consumers is required to accelerate the development of a comprehensive, easily accessible and efficient charging infrastructure at home, in the workplace and in public locations.