Amazon’s drone may charge EVs on the move

by Nilesh Wadhwa 17 Oct 2017


Photograph only for representational purposes.

US online retail major, Amazon has patented a drone technology that will charge your electric vehicle (EV) while you continue to drive to your destination. 

The switch towards green-mobility is a global phenomenon, while hybrids are cleaner alternatives to the traditional ICE vehicle, there has been a gradual shift towards EVs. While developed countries have seen a gradual pick-up in acceptance and sales of EVs, developing countries like China and India are also gearing up towards EVs. 

Amazon is no stranger to the automotive industry. It has a huge online marketplace that caters to the automotive industry. At the same time the company relies heavily on vehicles to doorstep-deliver products across the world. 

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Amazon has been experimenting with application of drone technology for last-mile delivery to its customers in USA, and it had also filed for exclusive patents in India for the same. While drone deliveries seem like a distant possibility, the company’s ambitious project to recharge EVs on the move is even more futuristic, and possibly a game-changer (if it succeeds) in charging EVs.  

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Currently, charging time for an EV varies between 30 minutes to 5-6 hours or more depending on the type of vehicle, battery capacity, charging station – regular or fast charging network, among others. Incidentally, despite rapid progress in vehicle range per charge, the biggest hindrances in adoption of EVs remain with charging network. There have been prototype demonstrations in terms of wireless charging, charging on the move through the road's surface. Amazon's new technology adds to the list of innovative charging ideas. 

The concept by Amazon talks about EVs connected to a central server, wherein it communicates the status of batteries. When the charge runs low, the server will deploy a drone equipped with a supplementary battery pack. Once it reaches the vehicle they will connect with each other wirelessly and sync up their speeds and location, followed by the car deploying a retractable charger and the drone would plug into the vehicle while in motion to charge the battery. 

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The biggest challenge for this technology in terms of practicality would be the size of the battery in the drone. As EV technology advances to solve the issue of vehicle range, bigger batteries are thought for, but in this scenario the drone would require even more capacity for its aerial movement as well as enough load bearing capability (battery to charge the vehicle). 

Through in a very nascent stage, the technology if commercialised, would help in the adoption of EVs. 

 

Also read : Continental targets seamless, driverless and green mobility