Range anxiety is still an issue with electric cars, even though 240- and 300-mile EVs are now on the market. No matter how far the range, an EV driver could run low on charge with no charging station nearby. Amazon might have a solution for the electric equivalent of running out of gas.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the online retailer and technology company a patent for an electric-car charging drone. First discovered by The Drive, the patent details a fairly straightforward charging process. Per the patent's language, the drone deploys only if drivers do not have a sufficient electric range to reach their destination. The car requests the Amazon drone via a server, which dispatches the flying charging station to the target car.
The drone identifies a roof-mounted target and then docks with the car while it's moving to charge the battery pack. Once the unit finishes, the drone buzzes off back to home base to charge itself ahead of its next call to duty.
Amazon detailed a number of different mounting situations in the patent including a retractable system and one that uses clamps.
There is no mention of how much charge the drone could provide. Given the physics of flying and the weight of batteries, our guess is this type of drone would be used to provide small amounts of charge, just enough to get the car home or to the next charging station.
Despite the popularity of drones and their potential benefits, a lot of red tape stands in the way of the units taking flight any time soon. Amazon applied for the patent back in 2014 and it was only granted just now. The company has dipped its toes into many technology realms, and it doesn't seem too far-fetched it would jump into the transportation sector in some way.