Electrify America has entered an agreement with San Francisco-based electric vehicle fleet charging company Stable Auto to introduce robotic charging solutions for self-driving vehicles in a pilot demonstration site in San Francisco.
Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, and Stable is a startup. Both companies develop infrastructure solutions needed to deploy self-driving and electric vehicle fleets.
Electrify America and Stable say they recognize the emergence of both electric and autonomous vehicle fleets, and are jointly working to address the absence of dedicated charging facilities equipped for such vehicles with this demonstration.
The two companies will deploy a pilot solution in San Francisco, California, aimed at charging autonomous EVs without human intervention using a robotic solution attached to a 150 kW DC fast charger.
This charging location will be Stable’s first commercial autonomous charging site and is anticipated to be open in early 2020.
As part of this agreement, Electrify America will evaluate the hardware, network, operations and billing of its charging systems to best suit autonomous charging fleets.
Electrify America has provided two 150 kW DC fast chargers to Stable’s charging facility for initial development work behind demonstrating the commercial viability of autonomous charging services for self-driving electric vehicles.
Wayne Killen, director, infrastructure planning and business development, Electrify America, says: “We believe that reliable, high power electric vehicle charging infrastructure is essential for the accelerated adoption of EVs in the US, and recognize that foundational solutions like DC fast charging can be adapted for different charging needs.
“Autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of driving, particularly with fleets, and tailored charging options for self-driving EVs will be critical to develop that effort.
“We’re excited to partner with Stable to be at the forefront of learning more and developing those charging solutions.”
Stable will manage the overall project and pair its robotic technology and advanced scheduling software located at its facility with Electrify America’s chargers.
The dedicated fleet-charging facility will allow self-driving EV fleets to charge with no operators present: vehicles can park themselves anywhere inside a standard parking space, and Stable’s robot will automate the connection between the vehicle and the charger.
Rohan Puri, co-founder and CEO of Stable, says: “We are proud to partner with Electrify America in this first step towards drastically accelerating the reach of electrification and autonomy.
“Our models have shown dramatic improvements to fleet utilization and operating cost-per-mile when fleet vehicles are paired with automated infrastructure in strategically chosen locations.
“For the benefit of our cities and ultimately of our planet, we are excited to introduce this new charging paradigm alongside Electrify America.”
Stable has selected Black & Veatch to be the engineering company for this project. Stable pointed to Black & Veatch’s experience in delivering global infrastructure solutions for cleantech transportation markets as a leading factor for its selection for the role.
As a part of Electrify America’s Cycle 2 plans, the company announced plans to conduct autonomous charging demonstrations to better understand the optimal charging site design, hardware and back-end solutions.
Information from this first site will also help both companies evaluate appropriate business models for different autonomous fleet holders across various locations at commercial scale.