The best way to charge an electric car may soon be a robot called Ziggy

The best way to charge an electric car may soon be a robot called Ziggy
  • Ziggy is a robotic EV charging station designed for living in parking lots, where drivers can call it up via an app to charge their vehicle.
  • Start charging EV Safe Charge has been developing the robots since 2019 and aims to have Ziggys on the market by 2024.
  • About the size of a refrigerator, Ziggy is a battery on wheels that can autonomously navigate through parking lots to reserve drivers’ seats and charge their cars. And of course there are ads on it.

    If you’ve driven an electric vehicle, you know how difficult it is to arrive at a parking lot and find the scarce EV charging stations all full. Even worse, one of the cars plugged into the charging port is fully charged with no owner in sight! Oh, the horror of underdeveloped EV infrastructure. A Los Angeles startup called EV Safe Charge thinks it has a solution: Ziggy, the EV charging robot.

    Ziggy is intended as a solution for parking lots that want to implement EV charging, but struggle to overcome the limitations of stationary charging systems. It works like this: Motorists enter the parking lot and reserve a numbered parking space via an app. When they arrive at their place, Ziggy is ready to charge their car.

    EV Safe Charging

    The robot is essentially a battery the size of a refrigerator with four independently driven wheels and cameras on all sides, allowing it to autonomously navigate from its home base to parking lots at speeds slower than walking pace. While it can’t plug and unplug your car for you, Ziggy’s running costs can be time-based to discourage people from monopolizing the robots. Alternatively, parking lots can offer Ziggy’s services for free. It also has two screens with optional touchscreen capability on the long sides that can display advertisements or parking structure maps.

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    Parking spaces can lease Ziggy’s, so maintenance is provided by EV Safe Charge and fleets of the robots can be temporarily deployed for events. While a Ziggy charging station must be installed, the system is believed to take some of the hassle of stationary chargers out of both drivers and property owners.

    Production starts in 2024

    EV Safe Charge began developing Ziggy in 2019, collaborating with San Francisco design firm Box Clever to make Ziggy welcoming and intuitive, factors important for the integration of autonomous robots into human spaces. The company hopes to ship the mobile charging systems in 2024 after production starts in 2023, and has recently started taking reservations for Ziggys.

    It seems like a great idea: EV Safe Charge advertises Ziggy as being immediately deployable and easily scalable, things that EV charging systems haven’t really become yet. Anyway, robots are already serving your food at IHOP and picking up packages from warehouses. Deploying it to charge your EV at your chosen spot in a parking garage is just another way robots can be helpful.

    However, there are still some questions about the system. Will some poor Ziggy fall victim to distracted driving? Do drivers in a cramped one-way parking lot get stuck behind the slow rollers? How many Ziggy’s does a parking space need to meet demand and how much does the service cost compared to stationary chargers? There’s plenty of time to figure out the answers to those questions, though, so for now, think of Ziggy as a window into some of the unexpected ways EVs will shape the future.

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