EV charging operator NaaS debuts mobile robot to offer unmanned service

As EV adoption picks up the pace, it's common in China to encounter difficulty in accessing a charging post. EV motorists can spend minutes driving around in car parks, only to find all spaces full or hogged by fuel-powered vehicles.

NaaS (能链智电, Nasdaq: NAAS), China’s first US-listed charging network operator catering to electric vehicles, recently launched an autonomous charging robot to meet surging demands for EV replenishment in the country.

Due to the growing penetration of EVs, new forms of battery charging are emerging, with specialized robotics taking the lead to relieve the “range anxiety” of EV owners.

The mobile robotic charger from NaaS comes with deep learning, 5G telecom modules, vehicle to everything (V2X) and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technologies.

Equipped with battery packs of all sizes and power capacities, the robot can find a car in need, park right next to its charging port, extend a robotic arm to plug in the charger.

After the charge is over and users pay up, the robot will guide itself back to a station to be recharged.

Coming in a water- and shock-resistant shell, the robot is able to connect with the EV’s infotainment system, so as to achieve connectivity and offer EV motorists “around-the-clock” service and a better experience, according to NaaS.

As EV adoption picks up the pace, it’s common in China to encounter difficulty in accessing a charging post. EV motorists can spend minutes driving around in car parks, only to find all spaces full or hogged by fuel-powered vehicles.

This has galvanized power suppliers across the nation to look to robotics for help, instead of relying on fixed charging piles.

In response to a shortage of charging facilities, NaaS said that at a parking lot, its robot will be able to recognize cars with low battery levels thanks to data obtained via an API on the car’s software platform.

This stands in a contrast to conventional robot-enabled EV charging methods, where robots either move along overhead railings or steer themselves to a designated spot upon receiving user commands.

According to NaaS, the robotic charger was built using self-developed technologies. The company consists largely of members who previously worked at Bosch, BMW and other automotive companies and possessed rich experience in robotics, autonomous driving, industrial automation, algorithms and sensing technology.

Public records show that as of December 31, 2022, NaaS had deployed over 515,000 EV chargers across a vast network of charging locations nationwide.

The company has filed hundreds of patents in electricity charging, mobile charging device and solar energy storage and charging.

Going forward, NaaS looks to invest more in key algorithms, intelligent hardware and cloud platform, to build a new EV charging infrastructure that is “commensurate” with the coming age of autonomous driving, it said.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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