The charger is operated using a smartphone and aims to help anyone with reduced mobility.

By Matthew Humphries

For anyone with reduced mobility, filling up at a gas station can prove challenging, but Ford is aiming to solve that problem for electric vehicles before they replace the gas guzzlers most of us still rely on for transport.

Ford developed a prototype robot charging station(Opens in a new window) that can be controlled while still sitting in your vehicle using a smartphone. Once activated, the robotic charging arm uses a small camera to identify and line-up with the charging port on a vehicle allowing a connection to be made (without damaging the paint work). Once charging is complete, the robot automatically pulls back the arm ready for the vehicle to drive away.

“Ford is committed to ensuring freedom of movement and right now refuelling or charging your vehicle can be a major problem for some drivers. The robot charging station could be an added convenience for some people but–absolutely essential for others.” said Birger Fricke, research engineer, Research and Innovation Center, Ford of Europe.

The robot chargers are custom-made by Dortmund University in Germany and are now being tested in real-life situations following lab testing. Ford sees them being installed alongside disabled parking spaces and outside homes, but also views them as an efficient way for companies to charge entire fleets of vehicles.