Because that's the problem with charging electric vehicles?
Hyundai has developed a one-arm robot capable of plugging a cable into an EV's charging port and removing it again once charging is complete. The automaker expressed the idea back in 2022 but now has a proof of concept, but the idea is even older than that.
"The ACR (Automatic Charging Robot) will help to make EV charging easier and more convenient, especially in dark environments. It will also improve accessibility, particularly for people with mobility barriers, as charging cables become thicker and heavier to enable high-speed charging," said Dong Jin Hyun, Head of Robotics Lab, Hyundai Motor Group. "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 automaker also cites the fact most charging stations are outside, uncovered, and badly lit, making the robot-arm method of charging more comfortable and safer. Hyundai also presses the fact of how clever the technology is and the work that's gone into the software and sensors calculating and working with the parking location of the vehicle, the shape of the charging port, the weather, potential obstacles and the weight of the charging cable.
The system also includes "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."
It all sounds very impressive, but let's take a step back. We've been attaching something similar to cars since not long after the mass adoption of cars in the early 1900s. Robot arms performing complicated tasks happen every day on production lines and would have improved accessibility for fueling cars for people with mobility barriers already if it wasn't cost prohibitive. That's why there's a way of calling into a gas station for help on many gas pumps.
We should also point out that it would be cheaper and more practical to install covers and lighting on charging stations as the vast majority of people aren't going to just sit in their cars while it charges. Many people seek out chargers next to coffee shops or restaurants for that reason. Adding these robot arms to charging stations would mean more cost to recoup from installing the chargers in the first place.
The fundamental assumption here from Hyundai is that charging stations won't resemble gas stations as they evolve despite the one shown in the video connecting to the EV6. There are reasons gas stations are mostly well lit, covered, manned, and have a store attached, then typically have food vendors in close proximity. Hyundai's wireless charging technology strikes us as much more interesting and useful.
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