Continental Develops Automatic Charging Robots for Electric Vehicles with Volterio

Continental Develops Joint Fully Automatic Charging Robots for Electric Vehicles with Volterio
Continental Develops Joint Fully Automatic Charging Robots for Electric Vehicles with Volterio

Continental is revolutionizing the charging of electric vehicles. Continental's development and manufacturing services provider, Continental Engineering Services (CES), is developing, together with startup Volterio, an intelligent charging robot that will make recharging electricity much easier and more convenient in the future. To that end, CES and Volterio have entered into a formal partnership that will develop the first near-production systems for the jointly designed charging robot by mid-2022. With CES meeting all the necessary certification criteria of the automotive industry, it will develop the system to production maturity and eventually take over the production of the charging robot. Serial production of the system is planned for 2024 and will take place in Germany. The innovative development once again underlines Continental Engineering Services' strategic focus on sustainable technology and service solutions. In particular, smart charging solutions for electric vehicles are important milestones on the road to comprehensive, environmentally compatible and sustainable mobility.

The fully automatic charging solution consists of two components: one at the bottom of the vehicle and the other on the garage floor. As soon as the vehicle is parked, the two components are automatically connected via an intelligent system controlled, among other options, by ultra-wideband, a radio-based communication technology for short-range data transmission. A practical advantage of this is that the car does not have to be parked correctly. The charging robot corrects deviations of up to 30 centimeters from the ideal parking position. In addition, it is immaterial at what angle a vehicle is positioned relative to the floor unit. The tapered design of the physical connector between ground and vehicle unit allows for any alignment and orientation between units.

CES's managing director, Dr. “Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more useful and suitable for everyday use,” explains Christoph Falk-Gierlinger. “With Voltero we have the ideal partner to develop an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles. Through this collaboration, we combine the development experience and automotive expertise of Continental Engineering Services with the creativity and flexibility of a young start-up.”

“With Continental we have the perfect partner to industrialize our automatic charging technology and achieve success in a growing market,” explains Christian Flechl, managing director of Volterio. “Continental has the necessary production capacity and scaling capabilities.”

Both companies had previously explored similar charging robot solutions simultaneously and independently. In the new collaboration, both partners complement each other so that a solution suitable for everyday electric mobility can be rapidly developed and made available to customers who are already particularly interested.

Key advantages of the innovative charging robot

The new technology offers many advantages. First, energy flows through a physical connection, just like at conventional charging stations. This means that, unlike wireless inductive charging via a magnetic field, almost no energy is lost when charging with the charging robot. This makes this solution particularly sustainable and efficient. In addition, thanks to the robot technology, the charging process is very comfortable. Unlike charging stations, users no longer have to worry about any aspect of charging, such as carrying heavy, potentially dirty or rain-soaked charging cables in underground garages. The charging process works completely automatically. Moreover, communication between ground and vehicle units via ultra-wideband ensures centimeter-accurate alignment of vehicle and charging robot before charging – the user can park with relative ease, the technology does not require accurate parking. The system is also simple and quick to set up. For example, the floor unit can be easily inserted or screwed into the garage floor. Technology already offers what will be needed in the future: If vehicles are driven fully automatically and at the same time park themselves in car parks, automatic charging solutions will become a part of everyday automotive life.

The innovative charging solution was initially provided for use in private homes with a suitable 22 kW alternating current rating. The solution is a retrofit, so it can be retrofitted to existing vehicle model variants. In the second step, a fast charging solution will be developed for common areas that can be pulled to the ground, for example parking lots, gas stations or factory areas with a DC charging capacity of more than 50 kW. This includes, for example, relevant variants for fleet management of commercial vehicles.

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