Tesla Model 3 Gets Touchless Charging Help From Cool Robotic Arm

by Ma. Claribelle Deveza July 24, 2020


 Featured Image Credit: TheNillaGorilla/Reddit

A recently-shared video online has depicted a Tesla Model 3 receiving some touchless charging help from a robotic arm. The setup was impressive, and it could very well hint at a time in the near future when charging electric vehicles could be a touchless experience. 

A short video of the solution was posted by Tesla community member and Model 3 owner u/TheNillaGorilla on Reddit. As could be seen in a video, a robotic arm holding a Tesla charger smoothly and effortlessly plugged it into the Model 3’s charging port. In a follow-up comment, the Tesla owner explained how the touch-less robotic solution was created. 

“This is at my company's studio, an innovation agency. We work quite a bit with UR5 and Kuka bots. This is just a fun WIP project using a UR5, programmed to charge once the car pulls up. It's only working off a path currently, but soon we'll integrate a sensor and camera (potentially a mobile app) at some point to detect the car's approach,” the Model 3 owner wrote

A Touchless, Robotic charging setup at my work. from r/teslamotors

For now, the robotic arm could only charge the Model 3 if the vehicle pulls up to a specific spot. However, the Tesla enthusiast noted that the solution depicted in the video was only the first step. The team behind the touchless charging solution is currently looking to add cameras to the arm and mapping sensors on the charge port, which should make the robot capable of finding the Model 3’s charging port within a wider range. 

Granted, the robotic charging solution in the short clip is only a prototype for now. That being said, it is difficult to not notice how similar it is to a project teased by Tesla in the past. Back in August 2015, Tesla released a video showcasing a snake-type charger prototype finding its way to a Model S’ charging port. The solution was impressive, though it did result in some meme-worthy jokes.  

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, for one, was asked about the charging solution during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. While watching a clip of the snake-like charger, Musk jokingly admitted that the behavior of the robot “looks kinda wrong.” When asked by the veteran host if the robotic charger would attack him in his sleep, the Tesla CEO noted that “For the prototype at least, I would not recommend dropping anything when you’re near it.” Musk’s joke resulted in laughter and applause from the audience and Colbert himself. 

There are actually a lot of uses for a robotic charger. When Tesla rolls out its Robotaxi Network, for example, it would benefit the company to have a touchless system that could charge vehicles without human input. Such a system would likely require some capital to set up, but it could result in operating cost savings for Tesla in the long run. 

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