Volterio has a vision to revolutionise the charging experience of electric vehicles (EVs) with a fully automatic connection device. The Austrian company is developing its intelligent charging robot in partnership with Continental.
Auto Futures has been talking to Christian Flechl, Volterio’s Managing Director.
The Volterio system comprises of two components: an on-board unit (integrated in the car’s underbody and an off-board unit (the charging robot). When an EV approaches, the VOLTERIO ground unit starts automatically to communicate with its on-board unit via a secure WLAN connection.
“The robot can automatically connect via a real physical connection to the car if it is parked above it at anytime. The system works for forward and reverse parking in indoor and outdoor environments. We are also working on the development of a retrofit kit which can be easily installed in already existing electric vehicles,” says Flechl.
The EV doesn’t need to be parked precisely over the ground unit, as it features a patented, 360°-connector.
“The robot can compensate deviations of up to 30 centimetres from the ideal parking position. It is also irrelevant what angle the car is positioned in relation to the off board unit. The system uses the same charging standards as conventional manual charging and works for AC or future proof DC. This makes the integration in existing vehicles quite simple,” he explains.
Making Electric Mobility More Convenient
In January, 2022, Volterio and Continental announced a partnership to jointly develop the charging robot. Continental had previously and independently researched a similar charging robot solution.
“Now we have officially entered a partnership with Continental and we will develop the first near-production-ready systems of our charging solution by mid-2022. Continental is also a perfect partner to take over the production of the charging robot. Volume production is planned for 2024,” says Flechl.
In a press release, Dr Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, Managing Director of Continental Engineering Services, states: “Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more convenient and suitable for everyday use. With Volterio, we have the ideal partner for developing an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles. Through this cooperation, we are combining the creativity and flexibility of a young start-up with the development experience and automotive expertise of Continental Engineering Services.”
With the support of Continental, Volterio has ambitious plans to develop the technology.“The first step is to provide our charging solution in private households. As a second step we deploy a dedicated public charging solution whereas the robot is flush embedded in the ground. This system also supports fast charging for public areas (filling stations, parking garages or factory areas). Our ambition is to charge with more than 150kW in public areas, so that fast charging is guaranteed,” explains Flechl.
For it to successfully operate outdoors, Volterio’s EV charging technology obviously needs to be 100% safe and weather-resistant.
“Robustness and safety was the highest priority from the very beginning in designing such a system. There are always multiples protection layers without any compromises. Since the Volterio system has minimum complexity on the car side it can be considered as a side inlet on the underbody,” he says.
Taking Humans out of the Loop
With the advent of driverless vehicles, an ‘always on’ robotic charging solutions becomes an attractive option.“Autonomous driving vehicles will benefit massively from an automatic charging solution. Imagine autonomous driving and parking functions where still human interaction would be needed for charging. This would not make any sense,” says Flechl.
Finally, we asked Flechl what the EV charging experience will be like by 2030.
“The best charging experience of your EV is the one you do not experience at all – fully automated and barrier-free,” he predicts.