The online powerhouse already sells home charging stations, Tesla touch-up paint and biographies of Elon Musk. But this patent makes its link to the electric-vehicle market much more tangible. And it has the potential to solve several persistent problems in the electric vehicle market: charging infrastructure and range anxiety.
Charging infrastructure has been growing in dense urban areas, particularly in places like California, but vast swaths of the country still have limited resources. A mobile, mid-drive recharge offers a tantalizingly easy way around the quandary of searching for a charger while road tripping through remote stretches of landscape.
Even in city driving, it’s possible to worry about getting stuck in traffic with a battery running low. Not so if a swarm of helpful battery bots can zip out of the sky and top you off.
A 2016 GTM Research report notes that electric-vehicle charging has already experienced tumult with company bankruptcies and cost barriers to implementation. The report lists companies such as Tesla, Siemens and General Electric as major players in the charging game.
Since that report was released, oil and gas major Royal Dutch Shell announced it will invest in smart charging stations, and cities and states have published a copious number of reports on how to improve charging infrastructure to encourage electric-vehicle use.
But few, if any, of these corporations and governments have direct and daily interaction with the public on the level of Amazon, a company which quite literally touches all aspects of many people’s lives (especially the wealthy, young urbanites who are more likely to have the funds and interest necessary to be early adopters of electric vehicles). That penetration is part of Amazon’s strategy — and its success.
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with,” founder Jeff Bezos has said. “They’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
The patent describes a process where Amazon’s drones can communicate with electric vehicles out on the road through servers that monitor energy usage and need.
Servers relay energy requests to drones, which would then be dispatched to meet vehicles on the road. The drones would authenticate the connection, attach to a vehicle connector on the roof or door and start fueling — even if the car is in motion.