NaaS (能链, NASDAQ: NAAS), a provider of new energy services, plans to deploy its mobile charging robots to highway service areas in central China’s Hubei and southern China’s Hainan, as part of the firm’s strategy to extend its mobile EV-charging network nationwide.
At an industrial park in Anji, a prefecture-level city of Zhejiang Province, NaaS recently conducted a trial operation to demonstrate the function of its self-developed charging robots.
This device, about the size of an autonomous indoor scrubber, can be applied in parking lot, highway service area, industrial park, harbor, among other scenarios, according to NaaS.
Users can place an order via a mobile mini-program, whereupon the wheeled robot will pilot itself to a designated spot, park properly next to a car, and plug in the charger.
When the charging is over, the robot calculates the sums to be collected from the user.
It provides an alternative to EV owners who rely on fixed charging piles for energy replenishment, only to face difficulty getting access to an idle one, especially amid surging demand during public holidays.
The proliferation of electric piles has yet to keep pace with China’s EV boom.
As of September 2023, new energy vehicle (NEV) ownership in China reached 18.21 million units, representing an increase of a staggering 1,400 times over a decade earlier. NEV sales this year is expected to hit 9 million units this year.
Against this backdrop, China’s energy suppliers and tech companies have been coming up with innovative ways to complement the prevalent charging method, which is to connect the EV with an immobile electric post.
Expanding robot fleet
NaaS utilizes deep learning, V2X, 3D vision and other technologies in the process of building its own automous robotic EV charger.
Combining the latest image recognition, autonomous driving, navigation and control algorithms, the robot figures out how to plan its route, avoid obstacles, and operate its mechanical arm with agility — all on its own, NaaS said in a statement.
The company looks to expand its robot fleet in coming years to complement the network of stationary charging piles.
These robots will likely function in association with the idle rate of electric piles, so as to flexibly allocate energy and meet EV owners’ demand in the best possible way, NaaS said.
Researcher affiliated with NaaS predict that by 2025, NEVs will account for 15% of the cars on the nation’s roads. A rough estimate is that on weekdays, 100,000 fixed piles and mobile chargers are needed to serve some 26 million cars.
This number will nearly double to 190,000 during national holidays, when 50 million cars are on the move.
This means that the number of charging piles across the country’s highway service areas has room for a 10x expansion, the researchers said.