Amazon is experimenting with fly-by recharging for electric vehicles, as a newly unearthed patent point to plans for a drone that can deliver power while a car is in motion.
As CNET’s Roadshow reports, Amazon was recently granted a patent by the US patent office for “systems, devices and methods delivering energy using an uncrewed autonomous vehicle”. In a nutshell, the tech giant wants to create a system where airborne drones can attach themselves to your vehicle’s roof, then deliver energy to the car’s battery while as hurtles down the motorway.
The patent covers a number of different designs, but the main concept is for an uncrewed autonomous vehicle (UAV) to fly in-line with the car, descend onto some form of roof-based docking mechanism, deliver the juice, detach and fly away. As well as a car, the patent also gives scope for a similar system to be used in everything from a bike to a bus, to a “personal watercraft” and “another UAV”. Drones within drones within drones…
All-in-all, it looks pretty far-fetched for the time being. The current state of both EVs and autonomous drones is not setup for recharging on the fly. The limited flight times of drones on their own will stop them keeping their own bodies moving, let alone a whole car. There’s also the problem of how to autonomously dock a drone onto a car that’s likely to change the speed it’s moving.
Looking further into the future, the patent does seem in-line with Amazon’s grander plans around drones. The company has consistently trialled drone deliveries, and has previously patented plans for drones to be stored in vast beehives. If drones do manage to pull off these technical feats, they could very well stand to radically alter the infrastructure of our cities. Still, don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.