Amazon patents a crazy car-charging drone idea

Your next electric car might be fueled up by drone.

Amazon was granted a new patent earlier this month that was only recently spotted by Green Tech Media. The patent explains how Amazon drones might one day latch onto an electric vehicle and charge it while it’s driving — a complicated balancing act between the car and the drone.

The drones could be fully autonomous, the patent claims, meaning that they would be able to plan and navigate their own routes without any human assistance.

Image: USPTO

Here’s how it would work: An electric vehicle would send a request for fuel on a network to which the drones are connected. The server would then select an available drone and assign it to meet the vehicle at a rendezvous point.

The drone would probably use multiple authentication processes to confirm that it’s interacting with the correct vehicle. Then it would simply plug into a docking connector on top of the car, and work its magic to recharge your battery.

The patent also notes that the drone could supply fuel besides electricity. “The energy source may use one or more of electric, chemical, or mechanical devices to store energy for the operation of the vehicle,” claims the patent. So we may also see gas-pumping drones one day. The patent doesn’t rule it out.

Amazon has been dabbling in newer drone technology since last December, when its long-awaited delivery drones dropped their first small packages into customers’ backyards, but the release of this product could bring new meaning to the word “convenience,” and could severely undercut the efforts of competitors like Tesla and General Motors to expand charging infrastructure on the ground.

While the car-charging scene is certainly expanding, with Tesla’s supercharging network moving to city centers and home chargers seeing new innovations such as wireless charging pads, there’s currently no technology out there that would come close to competing with Amazon’s drones.

A patent is not a plan, however, and the fact that Amazon has a concept in mind doesn’t mean we should necessarily expect an army of charging drones to hit the highways any time soon. Still, the patent shows that electric vehicles have caught Amazon’s eye, and that the commerce company is, at some point, making a move in that direction. Aside from a partnership with BMW to integrate Alexa into new cars, Amazon has stayed far away from the automotive space in the past few years.

Amazon has a hand in our purchases, our music, our TV, and our groceries. At long last, it is coming for our commutes.

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