New ideas for new cars

Autonomous vehicles and alternative drive systems are among the most important future technologies. In order to gain broad acceptance, the cars of tomorrow will need one thing in particular: new ideas for the associated infrastructure.

How will we move about in the future? It is not just experts that are occupied by this question. Automotive manufacturers are showcasing their latest electric vehicles at the major car shows and the topic of autonomous driving is being discussed in the media on an almost daily basis.

“Today, electromobility is an integral part of an increasing transformation in mobility worldwide,” writes the German National Platform for Electric Mobility in its progress report for 2018. “The foundations have been laid for electromobility to enter the mass market successfully.”

Charging instead of refueling

In order for e-mobility to gain broad acceptance, however, it must also be simple and flexible. The topic of recharging is still relatively unknown to many people but will play an important role for electric cars. Mechanical assistants can help people here by charging their vehicles for them. One example is the charging assistant from KUKA, a new development resulting from a cooperative venture with Volkswagen Corporate Research.

One variant of this product can be used in private garages. To put it simply, the charging assistant automatically plugs the connector of the charging cable into the socket of the electric vehicle on request. The driver parks the car inside a generously dimensioned ‘parking window’. The charging assistant takes care of the rest.

One automated assistant for different areas

“In this way, the vehicle is ready to use again as quickly as possible,” says a KUKA expert. “The charging assistant is also a solution for a wide range of different areas of application, such as vehicle pools or car parks, in which the confined space available would make manual charging virtually impossible.”

Today, the charging assistant may appear to be a convenient extra for the vehicles currently available. In the future, however, autonomous driving will play an ever-greater role – as will functions such as autonomous parking. This will make automation of the charging operation more important – and the charging assistant for the cars of the future will increasingly become an everyday object.

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