VW subsidiary to help with pilot of robotic charging stations for self-driving vehicles

Key Points
  • The pilot will be based in San Francisco, with the charging site due to open at the start of 2020.
  • There is excitement in some quarters regarding the potential of autonomous vehicles, but work remains to be done.
Electrify America

Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America, will work with fleet charging firm Stable Auto to roll out robotic fast charging systems for self-driving electric vehicles (EVs).

In an announcement toward the end of last week, Electrify America said the pilot would be based in San Francisco, with the charging site slated to open at the beginning of 2020.

The goal of the trial is to charge autonomous electric vehicles without requiring "human intervention". A "robotic solution" will be connected to a 150-kilowatt, direct current fast charger. Electrify America will supply chargers for the project.

The idea is that the site will enable electric vehicle fleets to charge up with "no operators present." Vehicles will drive into a parking space and one of Stable Auto's robots will be used to "automate the connection between the vehicle and the charger."

Electrify America's director for infrastructure planning and business development, Wayne Killen, said in a statement that autonomous vehicles would "play an important role in the future of driving, particularly with fleets, and tailored charging options for self-driving EVs will be critical to develop that effort."

While there is excitement in some quarters regarding the potential of autonomous vehicles, work remains to be done.

In February 2019, the CEO of Arm Holdings told CNBC that it would be "a while" before self-driving cars became mainstream.

"It is a phenomenally hard problem to anticipate what a car could do under absolutely any set of circumstances," Simon Segars, who was speaking to CNBC's Karen Tso at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, added.

"I think you're going to start to see early services, in quite a constrained way, quite soon over the next couple of years," he added, explaining that there was "some way to come" before the technology was "completely mainstream."