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Better Place unveils robot battery swap station


Many have wondered what Better Place's vaunted automated battery changing stations might look like. So the company, a would-be pioneer in electric cars and their attendant infrastructure, has released a slick video showing how it’s done at a demonstration site in Yokohama, Japan.

Swapping out the discharged battery from an electric Nissan SUV for a fully charged one took slightly more than a minute, according to the video, or less time than it might take you to gas up your car. And you wouldn't even have to get out (talk about full service).

The trick, of course, would be doing this hundreds or thousands of times a day without the automation breaking down. And, of course, they’d first have to make all those batteries and electric vehicles, plus build out the massive infrastructure of swapping stations all over the world.

But the company plans to begin rolling out real stations as soon as 2011 in Israel and soon thereafter in Australia, California, Denmark, Hawaii, Ontario and other places. For now, however, founder Shai Agassi will have to content himself with this six-month trial run in Japan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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