Volkswagen Group Research has announced its strategic partnership with automation specialist KUKA, for the development of robot-supported innovations for parking and charging of future vehicles. Autonomous automobiles and service robots are two subsidiary aspects of mobility in the future, and these aspects will be analysed jointly through the strategic partnership, the company noted.
The new cooperation between VW and KUKA links up with an existing joint research project looking into collaboration between human and robot. The e-smart Connect project includes a practical and user-friendly solution for charging high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles produced by the Volkswagen Group. It involves a KUKA robot independently connecting up the vehicle with a charging station in a specially-developed application, where the driver simply has to position the electrically-powered automobile in a designated parking space. The robot takes care of connecting up the charging cable for the driver.
VW said the Group is planning a strategic e-mobility offensive in the course of realigning its drive strategy, with the launch of over ten new electrified models by the end of 2018. A further 30 models will follow by 2025, and these will be all-electric battery-powered vehicles, it added. In parallel, Porsche will manage the on-going expansion of infrastructure for quick-charging stations. Volkswagen Group is also said to be providing a vision for autonomous driving of the future with the "Sedric" concept car. In addition, Audi recently established Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH for self-drive systems, where the company is carrying out work for the entire VW Group.
Matthias Müller, CEO, Volkswagen AG, said the partners are working intensively on structuring the mobility of tomorrow. This is not simply about innovative vehicle concepts but encompasses completely new requirements in the service sector, he added.
One of the aims of the research collaboration is to develop robot-based innovations for all-electric and autonomous automobiles. In future, robots will support humans in many routine tasks, and everyday life in future will be inconceivable without autonomous driving, noted Till Reuter, CEO, KUKA AG. He said that both the companies will work together on innovative concepts in order to shape this future.
Ulrich Eichhorn, Head, R&D, Volkswagen Group, observed that autonomous vehicles will contribute to making mobility safer, simpler and more convenient, and this includes innovative services associated with the automobile. The aim is to use the new strategic partnership to develop other opportunities in this area, he noted.
KUKA AG is one of the biggest providers of intelligent automation solutions and is the world's leading manufacturer of production plants in the automobile industry. The Group's own Research Department headquartered in Augsburg lays the technological fundamentals for innovations in industrial production and service robotics.