In the future, cars and trucks may not need drivers, but one thing they’ll still need: fuel. Or if it’s an electric vehicle, juice. If there’s no driver, how does the autonomous car of the future get gas, or more likely electricity?
No problem, they can use the robotic charger.
Electrify America is partnering with San Francisco-based electric vehicle fleet charging company Stable Auto to deploy robotic charging solutions for self-driving vehicles.
The two companies will engage in a pilot demonstration site in San Francisco, as both companies develop infrastructure solutions needed to deploy self-driving and electric vehicle fleets.
The program is designed to charge autonomous EVs without human intervention using a robotic solution attached to a 150kW DC fast charger. This charging location will be Stable’s first commercial autonomous charging site and is anticipated to be open in early 2020.
The deal gives Electrify America a chance to evaluate the hardware, network, operations and billing of its charging systems to best suit autonomous charging fleets.
The company provided two 150kW DC fast chargers to Stable’s charging facility for initial development work behind demonstrating the commercial viability of autonomous charging services for self-driving EVs.
“We believe that reliable, high power electric vehicle charging infrastructure is essential for the accelerated adoption of EVs in the U.S., and recognize that foundational solutions like DC fast charging can be adapted for different charging needs,” said Wayne Killen, director, infrastructure planning and business development, Electrify America LLC.
“Autonomous vehicles will 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. We’re excited to partner with Stable to be at the forefront of learning more and developing those charging solutions.”
Stable will manage the overall project, pairing its robotic technology and advanced scheduling software with Electrify America’s chargers. Electrify America is in the midst of a major expansion of its charging network, including adding 120 chargers at dozens of Walmart stores across the country.
The fleet-charging facility allows self-driving EV fleets to charge with no operators present. The vehic
les park themselves anywhere inside a standard parking space, then the robot automatically connects the charger to the vehicle.
Tesla teased a similar system for home charging a few years ago, but the system was not made available. This system fits nicely into Electrify America’s “Cycle 2” initiative, which aims to optimize charging site designs, hardware and solutions.
Electrify America was born to help Volkswagen make amends for the diesel emissions scandal in 2015. The company pledge $2 billion, including $800 million in California, over a 10-year period to establish the aforementioned network of 2,000 chargers.