Ford trials robot charging station to help disabled EV drivers

Ford has developed a new robot charging station that could help disabled drivers, people with reduced mobility and older people to charge their electric vehicles.

Accessed via a smartphone app, the robot charging station can be operated while the driver is inside their vehicle. Then, they can either stay with the car or leave it while the robot does all of the work.

Ford robot charging arm
Ford’s robot charging service can be accessed from within the car

Disabled drivers have already spoken of ease-of-charging as a key consideration when purchasing an electric vehicle, according to Ford. The American firm is now testing the robot charging station as part of a research project that looks into the development of hands-free charging solutions for EVs.

Following an initial lap testing session, Ford is now placing the robot charging station into real-life situations. When a driver arrives, a station cover opens and a charging arm extends outwards, guided by a small camera. Once the charge is completed, the arm retracts back into its original position.

Birger Fricke, research engineer, Research and Innovation Center, Ford of Europe, said: “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.”

Ford believes that in the future these robot charging stations could be installed at disabled parking spaces, in car parks or in private homes while their utilisation could be expanded to make company fleet charging quicker and more efficient.

Angela Aben, Employee Communications, Ford of Europe, who uses a power-assisted wheelchair to gain more mobility and independence, said: “I stopped filling up my car myself years ago, because it became very strenuous. My husband does it for me. The introduction of a robot charging station would offer me a much greater level of independence.”