Like many other auto companies, Volkswagen has been working on autonomous vehicles, partnering with companies like NVIDIA and Mobvoi along the way. Today, the company announced an extended partnership with Kuka, the Germany-based industrial robot maker. In a statement, the companies said that the cooperation "links up with an existing joint research project looking into collaboration between human and robot."
One project the two companies will be working on involves the development of a robot that can connect an electric vehicle to a charging station, so that the rider never has to leave the car. "In future, robots will support humans in many routine tasks. And everyday life in future will be inconceivable without autonomous driving. We will work together on innovative concepts in order to shape this future," said Kuka CEO Till Reuter.
While an interesting and useful concept, they're not the first to begin working on it. In 2015, Tesla released a video of its charging robot prototype that can locate a car's charging port and plug itself in. And other groups are going a different route, working on developing more powerful wireless chargers that can be used for parked electric cars and potentially even while they're on the go.
Volkswagen and Kuka are also looking to develop other innovative technologies relevant to autonomous vehicles, though they didn't specify what those were. Ulrich Eichhorn, Volkswagen's head of R&D, said, "Autonomous vehicles will contribute to making mobility safer, simpler and more convenient. This includes innovative services associated with the automobile. Our aim is to use the new strategic partnership to develop other opportunities in this area."