Skip to main content

Using drones to charge your EV while you’re driving is Amazon’s latest idea

amazon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whether or not Amazon’s R&D team comes up with most of its ideas during Friday night drinks is immaterial. The reality is that, possibly on a Monday morning, it files those ideas with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and, after a period of time, the USPTO grants Amazon the patent.

Some of those patents will be forgotten by the Seattle-based company over time and therefore never see the light of day, but as technology develops, others may eventually come to fruition.

As an example, it’s hard to believe Amazon’s “floating warehouse” will ever get off the ground, though this remarkable “beehive” drone tower seems a little more feasible. And as for the tiny “assistant drones” to help cops in their work, well, the jury’s still out on that one.

The latest Amazon patent to be granted by the USPTO describes a drone-based system for delivering energy to electric vehicles as they’re driving along. Put simply, the method would involve a drone flying to an electric vehicle, landing on it, and charging it before flying back to base. The drone would identify the car from a code on its roof, and then dock to begin the process of topping up the battery.

The idea tackles the issue of electric vehicles running low on power during long journeys, though Amazon could end up ditching the idea as technology for such vehicles continues to develop at a rapid pace. Indeed, Amazon filed its patent in 2014, a time when the car-battery issue was more pressing. The USPTO granted the patent just this month.

There’s also the small matter of charging the drones with enough energy to get to the car that’s running low on power, though another Amazon patent from a few years ago suggests it could use church steeples and other landing spots as recharging stations to increase a drone’s reach.

And for how long would the drone have to stay perched on the car? At the current time, Tesla’s Supercharger stations can offer a decent charge in as little as 30 minutes, though other systems take longer. Amazon’s drone would have to pack some pretty powerful technology.

Another more challenging obstacle is the fact that many kinds of commercial drone operations are still strictly limited in the U.S., so even if Amazon develops the technology, someone from the Federal Aviation Administration is likely to be standing there wagging their finger disapprovingly.

It’s always interesting to see what tech firms are cooking up with their patent ideas. The technology they describe can change over time and be used in different ways later on, but if we’re ever going to see cars hurtling down the highway with a power-giving drone perched on top, well, it certainly won’t be happening anytime soon.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Clever new A.I. system promises to train your dog while you’re away from home
finding rover facial recognition app dog face big eyes

One of the few good things about lockdown and working from home has been having more time to spend with pets. But when the world returns to normal, people are going to go back to the office, and in some cases that means leaving dogs at home for a large part of the day, hopefully with someone coming into your house to let them out at the midday point.

What if it was possible for an A.I. device, like a next-generation Amazon Echo, to give your pooch a dog-training class while you were away? That’s the basis for a project carried out by researchers at Colorado State University. Initially spotted by Chris Stokel-Walker, author of YouTubers:How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars, and reported by New Scientist, the work involves a prototype device that’s able to give out canine commands, check to see if they’re being obeyed, and then provide a treat as a reward when they are.

Read more
Check out the electric Ford Mustang Mach E before you’re supposed to see it
2021 ford mach e battery electric crossover teased on video leak 3

Ford hoped to keep the Mustang-inspired electric crossover it announced over a year ago under wraps until its official debut on November 17, but a leak has fully revealed the model ahead of time. Named Mustang Mach E, the four-door people-mover will compete in the same segment as the upcoming Tesla Model Y when it begins arriving in showrooms.

Ford has dabbled in EVs before; it sold a battery-powered Focus in many markets, and it experimented with an electric Ranger pickup during the 1990s, but these were low-volume vehicles based on existing, gasoline-powered models. The Mustang Mach E was developed with electric driving in mind from the get-go, and it shows.
What is it?

Read more
Electrify America’s home station lets you charge your EV while watching Netflix
electrify america home charging station for electric cars

Electrify America was created to spend $2 billion of Volkswagen "Dieselgate" penalty money on zero-emission vehicle infrastructure. So far, most of the money spent has gone to public charging stations along major highways, and in high-traffic urban areas. Now Electrify America also has something for drivers who like to charge their electric cars at home -- its first home charging station.

The charging station is a 240-volt Level 2 unit that can charge at up to 7.6 kilowatts. That allows for a charge up to six times faster than a standard 120-volt household outlet (also known as Level 1), according to Electrify America. Many drivers do more than 80% of their charging at home, Nina Huesgen, senior manager of Level 2 operations and program management at Electrify America, said in a statement. But the battery packs in many electric cars have gotten so big that charging from a household outlet isn't a practical option anymore -- hence the need for upgraded home charging equipment.

Read more