Watch: Hyundai revealed a one-armed robot that charges your electric car for you
Hyundai developed an automatic charging robot that plugs in your electric car for you.
The robot uses a camera and AI to find a car's charging port and plug it in.
Tesla revealed a similar prototype several years ago for a metal charging "snake."
Charging an electric car can be a hassle. But Hyundai envisions a future where drivers won't need to get out of their cars to refuel.
To make that vision a reality, the Korean automaker developed an "automatic charging robot" (ACR) that takes care of the nitty gritty parts of charging for you. It posted a video this week demonstrating the new tech, which looks like a less frightening version of a similar prototype that Tesla showed off way back in 2015.
Here's how it works: After a driver backs up next to a charging stall, the ACR communicates with the car to pop the flap covering its charge port. Then, using a camera and artificial intelligence, the ACR guides the charging plug into the right spot and charging begins. All the while, the car's driver can either kick back inside or simply walk away.
The robot's screen displays charging progress, while its speakers bark words of caution at any passersby who come too close. After the charging session, the ACR returns the charger to its place, shuts the car's charging port, and flashes a friendly "BYE" message on its screen.
It's similar in concept — but less nightmarish in execution — to a prototype that Tesla unveiled several years ago. In 2014, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company was working on a charger that "automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake." The following year, Tesla posted a video of an early-stage charging robot that resembled Doctor Octopus's sentient bionic arms from "Spider-Man 2."
Like some of its other stalled or scrapped projects — the rocket-powered Roadster supercar and battery-swapping tech, for example — Tesla's snake charger hasn't materialized. But in 2020, Musk confirmed it's still in the works.
Hyundai will keep developing the ACR, with the hope that it will someday make charging more accessible for people with mobility issues and more convenient for all. Since most charging stations are open to the elements (unlike gas stations), at the very least a friendly robot assistant could keep you dry when the weather gets rough.
See Hyundai's ACR in action here:
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