Finding space for fixed EV chargers can be difficult, so one startup aims to make chargers mobile.
EV Safe Charge recently previewed a mobile charging robot called Ziggy that drivers will be able to summon using a smartphone app or their car's infotainment system. The robot finds the car, plugs in, and then returns to a staging area to be recharged from the grid, a solar array, or energy storage batteries.
This arrangement means property owners won't have to block off specific parking spaces for EV charging, as well as offer charging even when supporting electrical infrastructure is unavailable, the startup noted.
Ziggy EV charging robot kiosk
The robot is also equipped with two large screens that can show advertising, providing an additional source of revenue beyond charging fees. The release listed Sand Hill Angels, a Silicon Valley angel investor, as a backer for the startup's launch.
EV Safe Charge plans to start production of its Ziggy charging robots in 2023, and claims to have gotten a handful of locations onboard. Those include a Holiday Inn Express in Redwood City, California, the Opera Plaza in San Francisco, and The William Vale, a hotel in the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood of New York City's Brooklyn borough.
EV Safe Charge aims to be the first company to launch a commercial robo-charging service, but Always proposed a similar idea in the form of its robotic charging concierge in 2020. Tesla also experimented with a snake-like charger that could plug itself into vehicles, but wasn't mobile, while Continental has concocted a "charging robot" aiming to offer similar convenience to wireless charging, but with a physical connection.
Volta has also used big screens and advertising as part of its model to offer free charging, and has broadened their use for air quality updates and other useful prompts.
We asked readers in 2019 if robotic charging might be useful and responses confirmed they were unconvinced. Do you believe there would be more use for such tech today—or in the near future?