"Robotic Autoplug" (?)

"Robotic Autoplug" (?)

Hello, I'm neither an owner nor a regular visitor here, but I'm curious if there has been any discussion about some sort of automated plug-in mechanism that could be added to (or included with) home chargers.

I know that:

"Wireless charging" has an appeal to a certain segment of owners and the population
People can be lazy (regardless of how easy a task), but also
That they/we can be forgetful (regardless of the importance of a task)
Tesla is interested in eliminating every conceivable objection to EVs, regardless of how minor.

Therefore, I think that such a system would have its appeal and practical uses. And given Tesla's robotics and technical expertise, it seems like it would be a piece of cake to design, implement and offer (if only as an option). A sensor would just notice when the vehicle arrives in or near* its standard parking space, and then the plug would "come alive", finding and moving close to the charge port. The latch would then open, and the plug would insert itself... without you doing a thing. (i.e., you could just park and go inside).

Impossible? Impractical? Not enough demand? I'm missing something? Love to hear some feedback!

* Another advantage to any wireless charging system is that accuracy of parking would not be required.

(Cross-posted from teslamotorsclub)

Red Sage ca us | 6 august 2014

I think someone in Europe, maybe Italy, created an automated charging solution for their Model S. Check YouTube.

grega | 6 august 2014

I think wireless charging has to be part of the future. Was it Daimler who showed their 3kw development recently, with 6kW per hour expansion toted?

To me the ability to lay something on my garage floor that I park over is more appealing that a robotic connection - even if it's slower. Wireless charging integrate into the car also enables other options outside the home.

mbender | 6 august 2014

Yeah, I saw the one in Europe -- the guy still had to plug in! There was also a semi-professional attempt made by someone in Vermont, I believe.

I was thinking of something done professionally (by Tesla), that would be inexpensive and work for anyone with a regular parking space and home charger. While it may be the end-game, true wireless would be more expensive, require more construction and (probably) permitting and "proofing". (I suspect.) It seems that an automated/robotic system made by Tesla might be a quick, easy and cheap solution.

Rocky_H | 7 august 2014

I don't know, maybe it's the lack of sleep I got last night, but I feel like I'm going to be the guy raining on the parade with realism.

"4. Tesla is interested in eliminating every conceivable objection to EVs, regardless of how minor."

I don't think so. Reasonable objections that a good amount of people have, yes, but not "regardless of how minor". I just recently saw someone talking about how an electric car would need to have a range of 1,000 miles before it's any good. (That's 14 continuous hours of driving!) And there was another guy who loved the Model S, but absolutely would not buy it because he will only buy cars that have credit card-shaped key fobs, which I did not even know was a thing that exists. So no, I don't think Tesla cares to use their valuable time and resources to overcome each person's particular nitpick.

"...quick, easy, and cheap solution."
Quick or easy depends on how many man hours of resources they would put on that design project, but it almost certainly won't be both. And it very definitely would not be cheap. An automated robotic system that people can install/mount in residential homes is going to be spendy, especially if they want to recoup any of their R&D cost on the very small number of units they would sell.

It's a different situation if people are in apartments and can't have access to charging at home, so that is something Tesla is interested in addressing, but I can't see that there are very many people for whom just putting the plug into the car is that bothersome if they have charging at home. Although granted, I did hear someone else telling about overhearing a Model S owner who was talking about how impractical the car was even for driving around town in because it didn't have enough range. When asked further why it would not have enough range, she said that she frequently forgot to plug it in so it was low on charge a lot. So I guess you can't underestimate (a) the laziness of some of the American public and (b) their desire to blame that on others.

DTsea | 7 august 2014


Remnant | 7 august 2014

@ DTsea (August 7, 2014)

<< Silly. >>

I would not belittle anyone's honest contribution to a Tesla Forum thread.

Many of the Tesla achievements would have seemed silly if mentioned on a forum as recently as a decade ago. They stimulate one's imagination, as well as the belief that with Tesla everything is possible. So, on these threads we all become Sci-Fi authors of sorts.

I feel we should respect this rekindled juvenile enthusiasm and creativity, this "Field of Dreams." It's nourishment for the mind and the soul and it is quite possible that some good ideas might spring out of it, with possible benefits for all of us and for Tesla.

mbender | 7 august 2014

Thank you, Remnant. Many words besides "silly" would describe what one-word comments are, but I'll leave those to the forum readers' rich and sci-fi-like imaginations. :)

Along your line of thinking, I guarantee that self-extending door handles would have been called silly and worse even five years ago. Especially since there are already simple designs that are flush with the body and add no drag, etc.

Also, from what I understand they were neither easy to design and implement, nor inexpensive. So the argument that an automatic plug isn't worth Tesla's time or money doesn't really hold that much sway for me. I suspect that it'd be cheaper and maybe even easier than the self-extending door handles. It seems to me that it's a fairly straightforward robotic task.

So I think that it'll happen, even if "only" by a third party.

mbender | 7 august 2014

ps. Incidentally, it looks like Rinspeed is already "on it":

(From a reply to same post on TMC)

Red Sage ca us | 7 august 2014

Remnant: +1 UP! My entire thread, 'Reaching for the Pie in the Sky' has that theme. Dream a little dream with me.

DTsea | 7 august 2014

Ok I will elaborate then.

Robots are great for repetitive tasks requiring known precision (industrial robot), or to replace human effort for low precision but time consuming tasks (think roomba vacuuming robot).

Robots are also used for dangerous tasks, often remote controlled- packbots, drones, nuclear power plant waldos- or places people can't go yet- eg mars exploration.

A robot arm to insert your charging handle, which done manually is safe, easy, and quick, BUT requires some force and precision, would be very expensive relative to value created. At best a rube Goldberg contraption- ie an amusing toy- or a project for a high school robotics competition.

that last might be the best application, and would be a fun challenge.... but not something I need in my garage.

DTsea | 7 august 2014

With respect to self extending door handles... A linear extension with a feel damper is SUPER simple compared to a robot that could seek your charge port and robustly insert the charge handle every day.

EcLectric | 12 august 2014

I don't think this idea is practical.

I agree with DTSea:

"Robots are great for repetitive tasks requiring known precision (industrial robot), or to replace human effort for low precision but time consuming tasks (think roomba vacuuming robot)."

One time-consuming task is to sit around in the garage asking 'did he plug the car in yet?'

I forgot to plug in on Sunday, so yesterday I had to make a trip to the supercharger (a short trip, charging at 200 mph!). It would have been great if on Sunday my car had sent me a text message "Hey! Plug me in!". It knew it was in my garage and that I hadn't plugged it in, and that the scheduled charging time was about to start.

Has anyone else forgotten to plug in?

DTsea | 12 august 2014

Well Eclectric that is certainly a lot easier to implement than a robot arm to plug your car in.

You'd have to tolerate the message every time you left the car unplugged on purpose, though.

Anemometer | 12 august 2014

Wireless charging will be the way. Not just yet, but soonish.

Would hopefully replace the mess of cable we might have to be carrying around based on the current lack of standards.

Pull up and as long as your are within area it will charge.

grega | 12 august 2014

Good idea EcLectric.
Could be implemented in a variety of increasingly smart ways... a generic reminder when unplugged, or only when at home location, or if battery is lower than 2/3rds at home, or based on your usual patterns of use.

Red Sage ca us | 12 august 2014

Why would you need a reminder, when you spontaneously check your Tesla App every 22.8 minutes of your waking life anyway?

JeffreyR | 12 august 2014

Not the same thing but related. From my comments on "Why battery swap will die".

I think the thing to consider is that Tesla had more than one motivation for investing in the tech to do 90-second battery swaps. I look at it this way:

Imagine if the battery-swapping robots were used to drop your battery pack so that it could be super-super charged off of the car. So instead of using circuitry and wiring in the Tesla vehicle, you use a direct link to multiple parts of the battery pack to parallel process charging across the whole pack. I think that would speed things up significantly. Imagine a 5-minute wait that "fully" charged your 85 kWh battery (say 95-percent), instead of 20 minutes for half.

This would also overcome the issue raised that you need an extremely thick cable to raise SC throughput.

Haeze | 13 august 2014

No need to remove the pack to charge it. If Tesla developed a pack that could take that much charge that quickly, they could just design a connector on the bottom of the pack itself that the "Super-SuperCharger" would connect to.

Remnant | 13 august 2014

With fast recharging and extended range batteries, BEV ownership is likely to expand rapidly.

Is the grid adequate to such a load? And if not, shouldn't all new recharging stations be provided with solar backups?

JeffreyR | 14 august 2014


Some good points. My assumption was that the shield would be in the way, but it may work w/o dropping the battery pack.

My other point is that the limiting factor on a current SC is how much juice can you push through the single cable and the single port on the car. So thickness of the cable is important. Ten cables are thicker than one. Remember there are 7000+ batteries in a single pack and they are grouped into "sub-packs". If you could charge each sub-pack independently and add extra cooling (think about how well AL conducts heat) you could increase the aggregate throughput. That should decrease charge times significantly.

JB Straubel said Tesla is using local industrial battery packs at the Tejon SC to even out the draw from the grid (and take better advantage of solar). So SC sites should have lots of capacity going forward.

Haeze | 17 august 2014

Charging individual packs at a time would also mitigate a lot of your "ramp-down time" at higher charge levels, since you could now charge one pack up as fast as possible, then have it "topping-off" while the next pack is taking the majority of the incoming power... but I assume Tesla already does that.

THRΞΞ | 1 januar 2015

@mbender looks like your idea has turned into reality. It's the result of those who keep an open mind to all possibilities.