Ebusco is a supplier of electric buses and depot chargers, while ROCSYS supplies plug-in robots. The two Dutch companies are working together on a system to automate charging at bus depots, using a robotically-controlled CCS charging system.
“The advantages of automating bus depots are many and varied,” says Peter Bijvelds, CEO of Ebusco. “Automating this process means there is no need for human hands, and that has two major benefits. First of all, it saves time (and time is money), but perhaps even more importantly, it eliminates the risk of a bus not being charged in the morning because someone forgot to plug in the bus or the plug wasn’t inserted properly.”
One key decision that transit operators have to make at an early stage is the choice between pantograph charging and plug-in charging. Ebusco has a very clear view on this: plug-in charging is the best solution, because no costly special infrastructure is needed.
“The only argument we regularly hear in favor of charging via a pantograph is that nobody has to do anything manually. That argument is no longer relevant thanks to this innovative robot,” says Bijvelds. “This combination saves enormously on costs, time and permits compared to pantograph solutions.”
“A lot of people think that robots are something we’ll have in the future, but we’re proving that they can do the job now,” says Crijn Bouman, CEO of ROCSYS. “The prototype robot is ready and working. Delivery of the first series of robots will take place in April 2021, after which a demo setup will be installed at Ebusco in Deurne. A second, larger series is scheduled for July 2021.”
The companies are further developing the robot to enable it serve several buses at the same time. They are also working to further standardize communication between the vehicle, the charger, the robot and the higher-level systems. The ultimate goal is to get the entire charging process ready for self-driving EVs.