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Transportation Power

Amazon Patents Drones That Recharge Electric Vehicles (cnet.com) 58

slash.jit shared an article from Futurism: Amazon has been granted a patent for an ambitious new method of maintaining a charge in electric vehicles. The company wants to use drones to allow drivers to top up their vehicles without having to visit a charging station. Drivers would request a top up from a central server, which would dispatch a charging drone to their location. The drone would then dock with the vehicle and start transferring power, without the car ever needing to come to a stop. This solution isn't meant to administer a full charge to the car's battery, it would only supply enough power to get the driver to a charging station, which are still in somewhat limited supply.
"Amazon first applied for this patent back in June 2014," reports CNET, noting it was finally granted this month. "Like many other patents, there's no guarantee that Amazon will actually create a product based on the design. It could merely be an attempt to stop competitors from doing so."
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Amazon Patents Drones That Recharge Electric Vehicles

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21, 2017 @05:50PM (#55411077)

    It's two obvious components used in an obvious way previously limited only by the lack of economically viable technology to create the device.

    Too many patents being allowed nowadays are for inventions that are too obvious given other technical advances. Whether computers, or cars, or knives, or whatever, the crap that is being allowed to be patented is shameful.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      yes. mobile charging stations already exist.

      you can carry them around with you to charge your devices when AC isn't available.

      trucks with large battery packs already exist to charge vehicles away from charging stations.

      extending this to a drone via patent is stupid.

      drones are the new 'do x with a y' = $$$patent$$$; just like the internet and computer has been previously.

      • The stupid part of doing this with a VTOL aircraft of any kind is the weight involved. Batteries sufficient to move your car to the next charging station would start around a pound:

        https://www.amazon.com/WPS-Fea... [amazon.com]

        that's going to require a scary big drone to carry it and the drone's own power source.

        • The stupid part of doing this with a VTOL aircraft of any kind is the weight involved. Batteries sufficient to move your car to the next charging station would start around a pound:

          https://www.amazon.com/WPS-Fea... [amazon.com]

          that's going to require a scary big drone to carry it and the drone's own power source.

          Exactly. This would be highly inefficient. It would use much less energy to just have an autonomous vehicle trailer behind it and provide charge.

    • by jblues ( 1703158 )
      Agree, but if I were to guess I'd say the 'patented' part is around granting authorization to the charging adapter. (Cars should have a little dignity, get to know their drone first, in that regard).
    • Prior art: the gonk droids in Star Wars...
    • by scsirob ( 246572 )

      There will be a whole slew of new patents filed, where common every-day activities are being combined with 'using an autonomous flying object'. You patent office has spiralled way out of control and grant them all.

    • You need to read the patent claims before deciding this. News articles about patents are almost always inaccurate and misleading. As in this case the article is misleading as Amazon have NOT patented the simple idea of vehicle recharging drones. They are in fact claiming a system of done-vehicle charging using some sort of optical recognition and smart scheduling. I didn't read enough to understand.

      Point is, everytime you read a media article about patents it is mostly likely plain wrong or at the least mis

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a 5 mile top up of a Tesla S?

  • by Presence Eternal ( 56763 ) on Saturday October 21, 2017 @06:07PM (#55411133)

    The part of me that remembers topping off my plane in Top Gun approves. The part of me that remembers topping off my ship with power conduits in Starglider strongly disapproves.

  • by Cyberpunk Reality ( 4231325 ) on Saturday October 21, 2017 @06:11PM (#55411139)
    "Like many other patents, there's no guarantee that Amazon will actually create a product based on the design. It could merely be an attempt to stop competitors from doing so."
    • well, maybe not -stop- but "pay to play"
    • In this case it's probably a good thing. The battery technology required to store an EV significant amount of electricity in a light enough package for a drone is a long way off. If and when there is such a thing, this patent will have expired, making it possible for anyone to make such a product without being hindered by a patent.

  • And what is the legal limit for drone size? Seems to me this has to be a pretty damned heavy drone to be economically feasible, I'm guessing you need to at least refuel 2 other drones to be worthwhile, most of a drone's weight is batteries, so, a drone that weighs 3x the drones it's refueling?

    Doesn't pencil out for me. Then again, Bezos could be looking ahead 10+ years when things will likely be a lot different.

    The USAF has been refueling planes for decades now. Not exactly a new idea. Not sure ho
    • Wouldn't it make more sense to have the electric vehicles charge the drones, based on the battery capacity differential?

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      If it's big enough to recharge your EV, it's probably also big enough to just pick up your EV and carry it to its destination :)

  • To have the drone just swap out battery packs and take the exhausted one back someplace to re-charge?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Would a third party to have control over the swap tech? A more limited and standard box design of battery size, shape, weight so a third party can swap the battery out?
      Thats limiting on advanced new designs and what if an issue happens?
      Who has to make a fault good again? The swap service? The drone maker?
      Invest in placing battery packs and drones all around the USA? It would be like a car company having its own branded filling station a car of that brand would have to plan to find for any longer driv
      • Would a third party to have control over the swap tech? A more limited and standard box design of battery size, shape, weight so a third party can swap the battery out?

        Thats limiting on advanced new designs and what if an issue happens?

        Who has to make a fault good again? The swap service? The drone maker?

        Invest in placing battery packs and drones all around the USA? It would be like a car company having its own branded filling station a car of that brand would have to plan to find for any longer drive.

        All that got worked out with filling stations.

        It works for propane tanks....

        I'm guessing Amazon Drones, servicing the inevitable Amazon Electric Cars, with built in Alexa are more what I was thinking...

        • Propane cylinder exchange is a complete ripoff. It only "works" because it is convenient and often available 24/7 and people generally suck at doing practical math.

          The tanks aren't even full.

  • Sure charging cars with drones is all well and good, but take that a step further and imagine charging drones with drones!

    Imagine a drone flying through the air, almost out of juice - then sending word to AmaNet and a battery drone swoops in from above! Then then both hover for several hours as the other drone slowly fills, until they both run out of power...

    But then another battery drone swoops in!! And so on and so forth. Exciting!

  • Hey, that’s a grrrreat idea, but why wait for electric vehicles when we could have (right now!) helicopters deliver gasoline through a boom permanently mounted on all car roofs, you know, just in case the driver runs out of fuel during that trip to the national park? AAA, are you listening?

    Seriously, does Amazon expect mass-produced automobiles to be pre-emptively fitted with a roof-mounted dock (added cost; added weight and air resistance and therefore increased energy consumption; waste of space tha

  • by ledow ( 319597 )

    Flying explosive batteries moving into the path of oncoming traffic while trying to make contact with a moving car.

    Yeah. Great idea. For a weapon.

  • 1) Anyone talking about the validity of a patent without using the word "claim" even once is a dumbass.

    2) Why would you submit a patent story to Slashdot without including a link to the patent? I had to go three articles deep just to find the patent number. Here's an actual link to the actual patent: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov]

    3) Why does "freepatentsonline" even exist when you can already read patents online for free at the actual Patent Office website? USPTO even gives them to you in HTML.

  • A Tesla has an 85 KWH battery. Assuming close to 6 KG per KWH Lithium Ion battery capacity, we're looking at 1124 lbs. Good luck carrying an 1124 lb payload with a drone.
  • The good thing is that this patent will be expired by the time it's feasible and then the exact same thing cannot be patented again.

Human beings were created by water to transport it uphill.

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