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Did a Dutch startup beat Elon Musk to market with its own Tesla Snake Charger?
Posted on December 23, 2019 by Charles Morris
If there’s anything Elon Musk loves, it’s bringing a gadget out of a sci-fi novel to life. In December 2014, he said Tesla was working on “a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake.” Shades of Doctor Octopus’s robot arms, and the human-hunting robotic snakes from the Terminator universe! Surely Elon knows better than to hook up an AI to this monstrosity?
Above: A look at Tesla's original "snake charger" teaser (Source: Tesla)
In 2015, Tesla released a video of a hands-free automatic charger prototype, but we haven’t heard so much as a hiss about it since.
In 2018, Researchers at Graz University of Technology in Austria demonstrated a prototype of a “robot-controlled CCS fast charging system” that could theoretically work with any EV (it doesn’t look as cool as Tesla’s snake).
Now a Dutch startup called ROCSYS, which is focused on developing automated EV chargers, has completed a seed investment round. The company released a video that shows its robotic charger connecting to a CCS-equipped Tesla Model 3 (it looks a bit cooler than the Austrians' device, but also lacks the reptilian vibe that Tesla was going for).
Above: Watch a Tesla Model 3 self-park and self-charge with the ROCSYS automated charging solution (YouTube: ROCSYS BV)
Has Tesla let the snake escape, and allowed another company to beat it to developing a hands-free charging system?
Surely not. Tesla plans to have fully self-driving vehicles on the road soon, and such vehicles will need a way to charge without human intervention. In 2017, Electrek's Fred Lambert uncovered evidence that the Californians have abandoned the snakey solution in favor of a ground-mounted system that makes contact with a charging port on the underside of the vehicle.
Electrek reported on a building permit for Tesla’s Fremont factory that refers to “Tesla automated parking Superchargers,” as well as a patent application for a “charging station providing thermal conditioning of electric vehicle during charging session.”
Above: A Tesla Model 3 getting charged using ROCSYS's automated solution (Image: Charged)
As batter capacity gets larger, charging needs to be faster, and it may be (we’ve entered the realm of speculation here) that Tesla has determined that such higher rates wouldn’t be practical with a serpentine charger (or a wireless system). In any case, the higher charging rates of the future will certainly generate more heat, which is why Porsche and others are working on liquid-cooled charging cables and increasing the overall system voltage.
Written by: Charles Morris