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VW's battery bot is real and can automatically charge your electric car

An autonomous charging bot from Volkswagen now has a real-life prototype that the company showed off in a recent video.

The vision of autonomous driving is clear: fleets of electric robotaxis are slated to rove streets, picking up riders, and delivering them to their destination, all without a single human touching a steering wheel. But what happens when those EVs need to stop for a charge?

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Volkswagen may have that covered...

The German automaker recently unveiled an official prototype of an electric charging robot that can only be described as, well, a battery butler.

The bot, an ATM-like machine on wheels and with opposable arms, is designed to service parked electric vehicles in need of a charge without any human intervention. That means seeking them out, opening the charging flap, and successfully connecting a long charging arm.

"[The bot] independently steers to the vehicle to be charged and communicates with it: from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it. The entire charging process takes place without any human involvement whatsoever."

VW

VW says that the bots are equipped with 25 kWh battery packs and support DC fast charging. They can also carry multiple battery wagons at once.

"To charge several vehicles at the same time, the mobile robot moves a mobile energy storage unit to the vehicle, connects it, and then uses this energy storage unit to charge the vehicle and repeats the process to charge other vehicles. Once the vehicle is fully charged, the robot independently collects the mobile energy storage unit and takes it back to the central charging station.”

VW

What makes the bots particularly appealing is their application in places like parking garages or residential parking lots where they would be able to actively seek out cars in need of a charge while the owner of the vehicle goes about their business.

Alternatively, it'd be easy to see these bots coming in handy for anyone operating completely autonomous robotaxis. Theoretically, the cars would be able to operate entirely independent of their owners – picking up and dropping off passengers and then charging when they run out of juice.

It's not clear exactly when the bots will be available, but a working prototype is definitely a good first step, especially given the inadequate amount of electric charging stations in most states today.

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