Bosch has partnered with Cariad, Volkswagen’s automotive software subsidiary, to test an automated valet charging system based on its driverless parking technology.

The system autonomously guides an EV to a dedicated parking space equipped with a robot that automatically recharges its battery. Once the vehicle is charged, it then drives itself to a different parking space. The companies are currently testing the system at two in-house parking garages in Germany, with each focusing on a different function. At Cariad’s staff parking garage in Ingolstadt, testing will focus on driverless parking with automated valet parking, while Bosch’s development parking garage in Ludwigsburg will be responsible for testing driverless charging with automated valet charging.

While Bosch already operates services based on its automated valet parking technology across two sites in Stuttgart, Germany (the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the P6 parking garage in the city’s airport), its new pilot with Cariad will pair the technology with an automated EV charging system. Through their partnership, the companies are looking to deliver a more efficient user experience by automating the parking and charging processes. Here, they aim to overcome the pitfalls associated with each process – including the time taken to find a parking space, locate a vehicle in a parking garage, and find a free EV charging station.

By automating the charging experience specifically, the companies intend for their automated valet charging system to resolve challenges such as long charging station queues, blocking fees for disconnecting the power cable too late, and the irresponsible handling of these cables. In addition to providing EV drivers with a more convenient charging experience, Cariad and Bosch said that the system will also benefit a broad range of industry players – including OEMs, charge point operators, parking garage operators, and energy suppliers.

The automated valet charging system works by communicating with infrastructure that maneuvers the EV towards the parking space where it can be charged. Upon reaching that space, a robot carrying a charging cable opens the vehicle’s charging flap and plugs it in automatically. Once the battery is fully charged, the robot then removes the cable before the vehicle autonomously navigates to a free parking space, making the charging spot available for the next vehicle. This final step was highlighted by Bosch and Cariad as a way its system could increase the efficiency of charging infrastructure, optimize the use of a charging point, and reduce customer wait times.