Amazon patents drones that might recharge your electric car someday
2017/10/11 Fredrick Kunkle The Washington Post
The company is known for pursuing strategies and technology that it thinks
customers might want or need in the future.
Let’s say you’re cruising down the highway in your electric vehicle when you
notice the battery running low and you’re in a place so desolate it makes
the Badlands look good.
The day may come when you might just be able to summon a drone to juice up
At least that’s the idea behind a new patent obtained this month by Amazon.
In its application, engineers from the retail giant sketched the idea of
creating robotic recharging vehicles that would maneuver their way to a
person’s electric car and give them a charge.
Whether that means that Amazon might someday add electric vehicles to an
expanding online retail catalogue that includes books, groceries, computer
cloud storage, entertainment and other goods isn’t known. The company
declines to comment. But Amazon is known for pursuing strategies and
technology that it thinks its customers might want or need in the future.
(The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder.)
The patent comes as the nation is increasingly prepping for autonomous
vehicles and environmental advocates are pushing for more infrastructure to
support electric vehicles. Both developments suggest a future in which
people get where they need to go in self-driving electric vehicles and
self-driving electric vehicles get to them with goods and merchandise.
The Sierra Club says in a recent report that even big investor-owned
utilities have shown a growing interest in funding the infrastructure for
electric vehicles, at least in California. The nonprofit organization says
three utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and
San Diego Gas & Electric – have proposed spending a total of $1 billion to
install 10,000 new charging stations in California, where about half of all
electric cars are sold.
Virginia just announced that the commonwealth plans to use $14 million from
the legal settlement with Volkswagen to build a network of charging
stations, the Associated Press reports. In 2016, the Obama administration
put up $4.5 billion in Energy Department loan guarantees to build charging
networks around the country. The administration recognized that, although
electric carmakers have made enormous strides in battery technology that
allows people to go long distances without a charge, many people are still
reluctant to invest in electric vehicles because of “range anxiety.”
Amazon’s patent – which was flagged by Greentech Media – envisions
technology that would allow a person to summon an autonomous recharging
vehicle to a rendezvous at a particular location or a range of locations.
The roving recharger could be a self-piloting aerial drone or a crewless
ground vehicle, the application says.
The recharging vehicle would then dock with the person’s electric vehicle,
perhaps in a fixed location or while moving.
“Even in city driving, it’s possible to worry about getting stuck in traffic
with a battery running low,” as Greentech Media put it. “Not so if a swarm
of helpful battery bots can zip out of the sky and top you off.”
But will it clean the windshield?
[© 2017 Press Herald]
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