Hyundai Motor Group Shows Robot for Charging Electric Vehicles

Hyundai Motor Group has developed an automatic charging robot (ACR) for electric vehicles. The ACR is a one-arm robot capable of plugging a cable into an EV car’s charging port and removing it once charging is complete.

A new video (below) shows a Hyundai IONIQ 6 parking autonomously at a EV-charging bay. Once the vehicle is stationary the ACR communicates with the vehicle to open the charging port, calculating the exact location and angle through a camera mounted inside the robot.

The robot then picks up the charger and connects it to the vehicle’s charging port, beginning the charging session. Once charging is complete, the robot removes the charger and closes the cover of the vehicle’s charging port.

“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,” said Dong Jin Hyun, Head of Robotics Lab, Hyundai Motor Group. “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.”

Some EV owners have expressed concern that when they arrive at a charging station it is only to find the charger’s cable or connecting handle broken. This adds to range-anxiety as you then need to find another (working) charging station. The use of robotics may help reduce breakage.

While the ACR appears simple at first glance, it must consider many variables such as the final parking location of the vehicle, the shape of the charging port, the weather, potential obstacles and weight of the charging cable.

In order for a robot to fasten a charger to the charging port securely, software technology that can simultaneously calculate these multiple variables is required. To this end, the Group has developed an algorithm that applies 3D camera-based AI technology to robots, and next-generation control technology based on this application allows robots to accurately handle heavy chargers.

Hyundai built a outdoor electric vehicle charging station at its R&D center to evaluate performance in real world conditions under various weather scenarios. As a result, the ACR is waterproof and dustproof capable of operating in extreme environments. The ACR is even equipped with a safety pole containing a built-in laser sensor preventing accidents by enabling the ACR to detect stationary and moving objects.

The Group expects automatic charging robots to significantly increase convenience of EV charging, and when combined with autonomous driving and parking systems may improve utilization and efficiency by sequentially charging several vehicles in a cue without the driver’s attention.

The newly unveiled ACR will be on display at Hyundai Motor’s exhibition booth during the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show, held at KINTEX in Ilsan-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, from March 31 to April 9.