Disabled drivers, people with reduced mobility and the elderly face a great challenge: refueling a car or charging an electric vehicle. To deal with this situation, Ford has developed a robotic charging station prototype that drivers operate through their smartphone from inside their electric vehicle. “Years ago I stopped refueling my car myself, because it became so tiring. My husband does it for me. A robotic charging station would offer me a much higher level of independence,” explains Angela Aben, a Ford of Europe Communications employee who uses an electric wheelchair.
robotic charging station
The technology could allow disabled drivers to stay in the car while it charges, or they could leave the car while the robot does all the work. Following initial tests in the lab, Ford researchers are putting the robotic charging station to the test in real-life situations.
Ford tests a robotic charging station designed to help disabled drivers
Once activated, the lid of the station opens and the loading arm extends towards the entrance with the help of a small camera. In the test, drivers were able to monitor charging status through the FordPass app. In the future, the robotic charging station, custom-made by the University of Dortmund (Germany), could be installed in parking spaces for the disabled, in car parks or in private homes. Looking ahead, the process could be fully automated, with little or no driver involvement. The driver would simply send the vehicle to the charging station, and the infrastructure would ensure that it reached its destination and returned autonomously.