Amazon Files Patent to Charge EVs on the Road with Drones
While waiting for battery technology to improve, businesses in the industry are rolling out innovative solutions for reducing range anxiety commonly experienced by EV owners who frequently make long commutes on a daily basis.
The latest idea comes from e-commerce giant Amazon. Earlier this month, the tech brand was granted a patent by the US Patent Office for a drone-to-EV charging service. Amazon is fond of drone technology, as it has been testing UAV-powered deliveries since 2013.
"We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with," said Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. "They're the reason we're successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient."
Amazon Drone-to-EV Patent
According to the patent, the company wants to equip drones with fuel and docking connectors to support the service. During operation, the unit is deployed (perhaps from one of its drone blimp stations?) to the location of the car. The author of the patent indicates the EV could be moving, while the unit is docking above. Additionally, there seems to be an option to meet the car at an agreed location for the service.
"Described herein are systems, devices, and methods for transferring energy from an uncrewed autonomous vehicle to a vehicle such as a car. The uncrewed autonomous vehicle may locate the vehicle at a rendezvous location, and connect with the vehicle while the vehicle moves. Once the uncrewed autonomous vehicle connects to the vehicle, the uncrewed autonomous vehicle may transfer the energy to the vehicle," cited the company in the patent.
From a business perspective, Amazon will likely use this cutting-edge technology to power its future fleet of electrified delivery trucks. It's too early to tell exactly how the patent will be implemented to its plans to automate large-scale deliveries (or if it will ever be applied at all).
It's no secret that Amazon is a huge fan of drone technology, which can help the business extend its highly efficient delivery services. At the moment, only individuals residing near Amazon warehouses can benefit from its Prime Now delivery options. The service ensures the speedy delivery of ordered products within a fulfillment window of one hour. Most of the establishment's warehouses (located in 24 states) are on the coast.
For customers living in remote locations – far from a major Amazon fulfillment center or warehouse, the company wants to deploy several docking stations around the area to facilitate drone deliveries. According to another patent filed by business in September 2017, the stations would be installed on street lamps, top of buildings and other tall structures.
Amazon isn't the only company with aggressive drone technology research and implementation programs. 7-Eleven, which is also the world's largest chain of convenience stores, has already completed a handful of successful drone delivery experiments. In 2016, the establishment completed 77 drone-to-customer deliveries during a live trial in Reno, Nevada. All transactions came from one store; and all customers lived one mile from the building. 7-Eleven was able to complete the deliveries within 15 minutes.
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