How to recharge an electric vehicle while it is driving is a problem the industry would love to solve. The limited range of electric cars and the lack of a widespread charging infrastructure make charging in transit an incredibly attractive solution. Earlier this year, scientists at Stanford University demonstrated the ability to wirelessly transfer electricity to a moving object, but as yet only very small amounts of electricity can be transferred, and even if the amount does increase dramatically, there would still need to be a huge amount of infrastructure deployed in the road network to make a reality.
Enter Amazon, with an alternative and potentially revolutionary solution — charging by drones, on the move. Earlier this month the company was granted a patent for this very thing. The idea is that a drone would be able to affix itself to a moving vehicle and provide it with electric charge, before detaching itself and flying off again. It would be a fully autonomous service, with the drones locating, traveling to, and recharging the vehicle without any human interaction.
More than just electric delivery
Picture the scene: you’re traveling down the highway in your electric car, notice that you’re running low on juice, and the next charging station is too far away, or you don’t want to stop. Theoretically you could just order one of these drones and have them meet your vehicle en route, latch onto a charging dock on the roof, give you a top up and then disengage again. The patent also covers the delivery of more than just electric power, with chemical or mechanical included as well. This could mean that regular petrol or diesel could be delivered in this way too.
This is another application for drones that can have a positive environmental impact and sustainability. Fully electric drones will be able to fulfill many functions that are currently the reserve of energy-intensive industries, such as the delivery of even more types of goods.
The idea of automated electric charging drones might be a while off from becoming a reality, but with the continued interest Amazon is expressing in drone technology, the future of recharging could be airborne.
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