Electric vehicle (EV) charging has gotten better, safer, and more convenient than ever before, thanks to many innovative minds conjuring up the latest technology for it. Beyond the super-fast charging capacities and vast charging networks, one sector of EV charging is seldom explored or improved upon, which is the charging plug method or form.
And fortunately, things might change now, as South Korean automotive giant Hyundai has come up with a brand-new EV charging technology, in the form of an automated robotic charging arm. This Automatic Charging Robot (ACR) is a one-arm device that utilises 3D camera-based AI technology, with Hyundai claims that they can work in any environment, regardless of the location, weather, and even potential obstacles.
Commenting on this new technology, Hyundai Motor Group’s Head of Robotics Lab Dong Jin Hyun said, “The ACR 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.”
“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,” he added.
From one perspective, an automated EV charging port sounds like it came directly from any Sci-Fi universe. But, when you think about it, this new tech kinda makes sense, given the sheer autonomous vehicle technologies and features that exist in many EVs nowadays.
Case and point, Hyundai’s preview video of the ACR showcases the Ioniq 6 autonomously parking into the ACR EV charging bay. Once the Ioniq 6 is stationary in its position, the ACR sends signals to the vehicle to open up the charging port, and proceed to move its robotic arm to plug in the charging cable into the vehicle.
Once the car is fully-charged, the robotic arm automatically disengages the charging port from the car, where it will notify the car owner to get their car and drive it away from the charging bay.
It is important to note that this ACR is still under the development stage, with Hyundai still fiddling with the tech for better usability and convenience. For instance, the robotic arm’s movement to locate the EV’s charging port might sound like a straightforward thing to do, but there’s a lot of data and possibilities to go through, like the vehicle positioning, the car’s body shape, and many more.
And unlike the robotic arms you see at the car’s manufacturing assembly line, Hyundai’s ACR is quite compact and simplistic in design. The absence of wheels for the ACR not only occupies less space, but also proven to work well with the EV’s automated parking technology, Hyundai claims.
While currently under development, the South Korean marque is poised to preview and demonstrate their cutting-edge ACR EV charging technology at the upcoming 2023 Seoul Mobility Show, taking place from Mar 31 to Apr 9 this year.