Electric car: Charles, an autonomous robot that recharges batteries

Mercedes-EQ reveals an interesting solution for the electric and plug-in hybrid car sector. Envisioned, designed and marketed by Lyon start-up Mob-Energy, the autonomous robot called “Charles” is capable, alone and as an adult, of recharging the batteries of any electric vehicle. The automaker across the Rhine, through its Mercedes-Benz energy department, approached Mob-Energy to develop this solution, which is as unusual as it is innovative. In fact, Charles answers many problems related to charging an electric car.

The world is changing and our daily lives as drivers must inexorably become 100% electric. However, the electrical infrastructure necessary to sustain the electric car is, not without puns, far from being in line with the decision taken by Europe, this one concerning the ban on the sale of thermal cars. Fortunately, “Charles takes care of it” to use the title of the famous 80’s TV series.

As mentioned in the introduction, Charles, the autonomous charging robot for electric cars, represents a real solution to ensure our current and future “clean” mobility. Mainly intended for underground car parks open to the public, airports and companies, the Charles is equipped with a battery whose modules were recovered from the electric Mercedes, to understand that Mercedes thus offers a second life to its batteries, the Charles battery being precisely with a capacity of 15 kWh. Note that so far the initial battery life in an electric car is 8-10 years.

As you may have understood, with Charles there is no longer a need to install a charging station per parking space. That’s not all because, as a general rule, when recharging, an electric car monopolizes a charging station for hours, even days, while it only takes a few hours or minutes to recharge the battery. We come to the third problem that Charles responds to and is certainly the most difficult to manage in these times of energy crisis: electricity. In fact, 20 charging stations require 20 cables, while Charles only needs one to “fill with electricity” before connecting to an electric car.

It should be noted that in addition to supplying Charles with the battery, Mercedes manages, through other partners, the essential data transmission network, especially in the basement, for the proper functioning of the autonomous charging robot. On a larger scale, Mercedes-Benz Energy also brings its experience and large-scale projects to Mob-Energy to develop other charging solutions for electrified vehicles.

To go even further, Salim El Houat (Co-founder and CEO of Mob-Energy) highlights another very important point related to the use of an electric car in the city. In fact, the vast majority of owners of this type of vehicle have the possibility of easily recharging the battery at home or at work. We come to the fact that Charles doesn’t need a lot of energy to recharge, “in small doses”, several parked electric cars. In terms of charging power, this gives up to 7.4 kW on AC and up to 30 kW on DC for Charles. In practice, a maximum of 100 km of autonomy is recovered in just 20 minutes.

Mob-Energy Mercedes autonomous charging robot electric car

Thus, as Michel Chevalet would say: ” How it works ? “ Let’s look at a simple example… Arriving at an underground car park behind the wheel of his electric car, Charles is waiting for you in silence, knowing that he has long since recharged his Mercedes battery by being connected to the mains. Again, let’s insist, only one cable is needed for Charles to store energy. With a full battery, it’s ready to service your Mercedes-Benz. Once the vehicle is parked, using the Mercedes mobile app on behalf of “ME Charge”, you have access to a connection module (pictured below).

All you have to do is connect it to your electric car, respecting a specific location. Once this operation is done, in one click, Charles, thanks to his 3D, 2D lidars and various sensors, moves to his car on his own and then connects to the module. The rest, you already know: Charles recharges the battery according to his needs.

Mob-Energy Mercedes autonomous charging robot electric car

Intelligent, Charles manages to prioritize, in real time, the various recharges he has to perform. The Mob-Energy teams manage everything, in terms of supervision, of all the systems that allow the Charles to work well as a “turnkey” solution for car park operators or companies. Charles integrates, of course, systems related to the security of people and goods. In numbers, Charles weighs 520 kilograms and moves at a speed of approximately 4.9 km/h.

Mob-Energy Mercedes autonomous charging robot electric car

Finally, today, the Charles autonomous charging robot is fully functional at the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in France. Two other autonomous robots are present in France, in Lyon (Lyon Parc Auto) and in Strasbourg at the Wilson des Halles car park.

Text: Frédéric Lagadec

Photos: LesVoitures.com and Mercedes-Benz

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