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

amazon

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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Cars

The best hybrid cars save on fuel without sacrificing fun

The best hybrid cars are fuel-efficient and all the rage, but which one should you buy? We’ve broken through the noise to let you know the best hybrid, and a few interesting alternatives from different categories.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Cars

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.
Cars

Tesla Model S and Model X charge faster and go farther with the same battery

An all-new drivetrain for the Tesla Model S and X enables the EVs to travel farther per charge than the previous design. Tesla Model S Long Range sedans have a 370-mile range and Model X Long Range SUVs can travel 325 miles per EPA cycle.
Cars

2019 Ford F-150 RTR gets a light dose of off-road, style upgrades

Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s RTR Vehicles is turning its attention to the 2019 Ford F-150 pickup truck. RTR gave Ford's bestseller new suspension components and tires, as well as more extroverted exterior styling.
Cars

Electric truck maker Rivian scores $500 million investment from Ford

Alongside Amazon, Rivian can now count Ford as one of its backers. The Blue Oval will invest $500 million in Rivian, and will use the company's "skateboard" chassis as the basis for a future electric vehicle.
Cars

The best diagnostic adapters monitor your car so you don't have to

Sometimes called dongles, the best car adapters will tell you what's wrong under the hood while help you keep tabs on your family and routine maintenance.
Emerging Tech

Japanese taxis will use facial recognition to target you with ads as you ride

A Japanese startup is trying to reinvent in-taxi advertising by using facial recognition technology to identify the key characteristics of riders and then presenting them with appropriate ads.
Cars

Nvidia agrees with Tesla’s take on self-driving cars, but corrects specifics

Nvidia vice president Rob Csongor agreed with broad statements by Elon Musk at Tesla's April 22 Autonomy Investor Day. Csongor then took exception to what he termed were inaccuracies about Nvidia's self-driving car chip.
Cars

Stop backing into your neighbor's car with the best backup cameras

The right backup camera will allow you to better avoid vehicles and other obstacles without taking your eyes off the road, rendering "sorry, I hit your car!" notes a thing of the past. Here are our current favorites.
Mobile

Waze vs. Google Maps: Which map app should you be using?

Waze and Google Maps are two of the most popular apps for those looking for turn-by-turn navigation, yet there are some notable differences to point out. Here, we examine both to decide which offers the best feature set.
Business

Tesla posts $702M Q1 loss as deliveries fall sharply; Musk promises turnaround

Tesla lost $702 million during the first quarter of 2019 as deliveries fell sharply, and demand for the Model X and the Model S flattened. The company predicts it will again lose money in the second quarter.
Cars

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best Top Gear episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, Top Gear has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 26 seasons.