Ford has created a prototype robot charging station, which allows disabled drivers to remain in their electric car while it charges.
To make charging easier for disabled motorists, the charging aid can be used via the brand’s FordPass smartphone application.
Easy charging is said to be a top factor for disabled drivers when choosing an electric car. As a result, Ford researchers are currently putting the robot charging station to the test in real-world scenarios following early lab testing, in order to create hands-free charging solutions for electric vehicles.
When activated, a small camera helps the charging arm extend toward the inlet while the station cover swings open, during which time drivers can check the charge status using the accompanying mobile application. The arm then retracts after charging is complete.
The custom-built robot charging station, created by Dortmund University in Germany, may one day be deployed at private residences, in parking lots, and at places designated for people with disabilities. Additional uses could include fleet charging that is quick and effective for businesses.
In the future, the technology could be completely automated with little to no driver involvement, while also enabling both quicker and more efficient charging of vehicles. The driver would only need to send their car to the charging station, and then the infrastructure would ensure that the car gets to, and returns from, its charge intelligently.
Birger Fricke, research engineer, Research and Innovation Center, Ford of Europe said: “Ford is committed to ensuring freedom of movement and right now refuelling or charging your vehicle can be a major problem for some drivers.
“The robot charging station could be an added convenience for some people but – absolutely essential for others.”
The robot charging station will be further enhanced in a subsequent project with the charging network provider IONITY. As seen at the IAA in Munich, Germany, last year, Ford is also looking into automated valet parking in conjunction with the robot charging options. The electrification efforts of Ford are complemented by these research projects.
Ford has signed a petition with 27 other corporations supporting the 2035 transition into zero emission cars and vans. The Detroit-based brand has also stressed the importance of ensuring that charging stations are being built in line to keep up with the increased rate of electric vehicle sales.
Customers have access to a network of more than 300,000 chargers across Europe thanks to Ford's rapidly expanding Blue Oval Charging Network. Ford's SYNC 4 connectivity and entertainment system includes a touchscreen that can be used to access Ford Charge Assist, which helps drivers to find and pay for the use of nearby charging stations.