Amazon Patents Drone That Will Recharge Your Electric Car

Electric Car

OCT 18 2017 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 21

Electric Car

Drawings of Amazon’s drone, which could potentially charge an electric car

Could Amazon’s drone really charge an electric car?

There is really no reason why it couldn’t show up and add a few miles of range to get you out of a bad situation. However, charging to any meaningful capacity would be an epic feat.

Amazon has come up with a patent for a drone that would be summoned by an electric car driver who needs a charge and can’t get to a charger. It would also add convenience because you could charge without having to stop the car and wait an hour or so. The idea is sort of like a plane that refuels another plan while flying.

Electric Car

Amazon’s drawing of the “receiving” electric car

The patent was filed way back in 2014 and just approved this month. It was discovered by Greentech Media and then subsequently exposed by The Drive. 

Once summoned, the drone would approach the vehicle, wirelessly communicate, and match speed. Then some type of apparatus would protrude from the top of the vehicle so that the drone could dock and provide the necessary “juice”. There’s a whole lot more to the idea, which you can read by clicking the link at the bottom of this page, but that’s the basic idea.

Now, here’s the issues. A typical drone wouldn’t have the ability to “carry” very much energy. Batteries surely aren’t lightweight. In order to provide any reasonable amount of range, it would have to lift huge batteries, meaning it would be a significantly large drone with mammoth electric motors. These type of vehicles aren’t very efficient in the first place, so the added weight would surely diminish airtime. The further it has to fly, the more power would be depleted.

Possibly (and hopefully), there will come a day when something like this could be viable. However, with current technology, it might be good for a few emergency miles to get you to the next charging station.

Source: The Drive, United State Patent Database

Categories: Charging

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21 Comments on "Amazon Patents Drone That Will Recharge Your Electric Car"

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That drone could carry a whole lot of energy if miniaturized nuclear reactors were allowed, heh.

But otherwise, it seems awfully hard for this idea to get off the ground (see what I did there?!)

A DJI S1000, for example, has a flight time of about 10-15 minutes with a 22Ah battery, and adding batteries just adds more weight which decreases flight time.

If their drone is powered by a liquid fuel source, this is quite feasible, though that charge top-off for a BEV would end up being a fancy version of a range-extended plug in. 🙂

Miniaturized Nuclear reactors???? I am thinking Supercapacitors.

A small reactor would give the most energy with the least amount of weight. Of course, it’s also the least likely option due to all the nuclear regulations and concern around nuclear in general.

Supercapacitors don’t have anywhere near the energy density to make this work, unless EEStor’s hype ever comes to fruition. Even then, it’s on scale with Lithium Ion batteries, and that’s still not enough for a drone to carry and transfer any meaningful amount of energy.

A drone fueled by AVGAS is probably the most viable option today.

It would be better to send out driverless cars to recharge EVs. If you remove all the room needed for passengers/luggage, you could fit a lot battery in those cars.

Indeed, exactly my thought upon 1st read. Has anyone patented that approach?

Maybe it’ll deliver Carl’s Jr/Hardees too!

That would be sweet! I miss Carl’s Jr since I moved back east. But the burger would be cold and the malt would be melted by the time it made it here…

Am I the only one literally scratching my head over Figure 6’s inclusion of “Tree” (610) ?!?

Tree? What tree?

That is a classic mushroom cloud, consistent with ClarksonCote’s suggestion that the concept is only truly viable using a small nuclear reactor.

It’s simply addressing the “What’s the worst that could happen” spec.

Haha! Yes, “Tree 610” was accidentally re-labeled from “Mushroom Cloud 839” 🙂

Patent graphics done by Bob Ross.

Ha! I was just thinking, that’s a very happy little tree.

Didn’t anyone notice the “fuel transfer” pipe in the drawing & the patent itself?
(-:
Due to the much better energy density of dino juice, this would actually work much better for an ICE or PHEV vehicle than a BEV.
The drone could carry 1-1.5 gallons of ICE fuel, which (on a PHEV like the Volt, which gets real-world 40mpg AFAIK) would be good for ~60 miles — enough to get to the next gas station or charger for a full charge.

Yes, it looks like whoever made the patent intended for the drone to be a switch-hitter, carrying either gasoline to help an out-of-gas gasmobile, or electricity to charge a BEV with an exhausted battery pack.

Along with the idea of the drone transferring power from the car owner’s solar-powered home, as HVACman said in his comment, leads me to seriously question that this was intended to be taken seriously. It’s just… gonzo!

Per the actual patent:

“In FIG. 6, a tree 610 is depicted. The vehicle 102 may be configured to generate environment data 220 that indicates the presence of the tree 610. This environment data 220 may be provided to the UAV 106, and the UAV 106 may use this environment data 220 when docking with the vehicle 102. In another implementation the UAV 106 may detect the presence of the tree 610 or another object or hazard, and provide information to the vehicle 102.”

interpretation: The UAV may be able to tell the driver that there is a shade-tree (or other structure – like – as others mentioned – a Carl’s Jr) nearby so he/she can be more comfortable while waiting for the charge (or AAA). Or at least go through the Carl’s Jr drive-thru (drone-fly-thru?) for them and drop off a burger:)

LOL!

The patent has a ton of claims, including being able to transfer power from the user’s solar-powered house to the vehicle, etc. You really ought to follow the link to the actual patent and read it.

Is it April 1st?

Sad, when motorcycle has more battery capacity than most PHEVs.

Also, faster on-board charger than the Chevy volt. Still clueless GM.

How about a self propelled autonomous platform of the type displayed for the Boring Company for tunnel use? Just use it above ground with a better suspension and a winch or other system allowing the hapless stranded ev driver the load his/her car onto the platform. The rescued car/driver are then delivered to a charging station or other destination.

It could even have the option to charge the car on the spot or charge it as it is being carried.

“Now, here’s the issues. A typical drone wouldn’t have the ability to ‘carry’ very much energy. Batteries surely aren’t lightweight. In order to provide any reasonable amount of range, it would have to lift huge batteries…”

An even bigger issue is that any car that needed charged in such a fashion would have to already have the charge receiving mechanism shown in the patent installed on the roof.

Also, apparently there needs to be a tree nearby. 😉

I have to agree with SteveSeattle. This looks more like a joke than a serious patent application!