Image by Sophie Jones (2021).

Charging electric vehicles still poses problems for people with mobility issues. According to a press release, Ford is now looking to resolve this by creating robot charging stations that can be commanded from the fingertips of disabled drivers. 

Ford’s trials are part of a research project to develop hands-free charging solutions for electric vehicles and fully automatic charging for autonomous vehicles.

Following initial lab testing, Ford researchers are now putting the robot charging station to the test in real-life situations. Once activated, the station cover slides open and the charging arm extends towards the inlet with the help of a tiny camera. 

Parking spaces

For the trial, drivers were able to monitor the charge status via a custom app called the FordPass. The arm simply retracts back into place after use.

In future, the robot charging station, custom-made by Dortmund University in Germany, could be installed at disabled parking spaces, in car parks or at private homes. Further applications could include fast and efficient charging of company fleets. The technology could also support more powerful charging to charge vehicles in a much shorter time.

Ford believes the process could become fully automated, with minimal or no driver involvement. The driver would simply send the vehicle to the charging station, with the infrastructure ensuring it reaches and returns from its destination autonomously.

The latest in electric innovations

This is the latest in Ford’s electrification and automation research in Europe, with other projects including an automated valet parking system presented last year. Ford’s Blue Oval Charging Network also offers 300,000 charging points across Europe. 

Ford recently joined 27 companies in a petition to ensure all new cars and vans in Europe are zero emission from 2035 and called for targets to grow electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe to keep pace with electric vehicle growth rates.

Birger Fricke, a research engineer at the Research and Innovation Center for Ford Europe, said: “The robot charging station could be an added convenience for some people but – absolutely essential for others.”

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