Can Aerial Drone Charging Replace EV Charging Stations?

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【Summary】South Korea-based designer Inyeop Baek proposed the use of drones to ease range anxiety and charge EVs on the go.

Michael Cheng    Mar 11, 2018 8:35 AM PT
Can Aerial Drone Charging Replace EV Charging Stations?

EVs owners are prone to range anxiety, when traveling long distances. As a solution, many EV automakers are setting up vast networks of charging stations, around cities and populated areas.

However, the process is painstakingly slow and costly. In far-flung locations, EV charging hub developers must consider infrastructure costs associated with electrical connections and power distribution. As an alternative, South Korea-based designer Inyeop Baek proposed the use of drones to charge EVs on the go.

EV Charging on the Road

Baek's concept for portable EV charging via drones is unique. His vision includes an entire network of drones, managed by a human operator. Ideally, the service would be accessible using a smartphone, allowing customers to summon a drone with a few taps on the screen.

For streamlined compatibility, users are required to provide their car info during registration. Payments, charging status information, real-time notifications and location tracking are provided from the app.

"The subscription service is accessible via app. Whether it's on long road trips where there are few charging stations or simply between spots in town, users can order a charging Volt drone to ensure their vehicle always has enough power to get them from point A to point B," explained Troy Turner from Yanko Design.

The quadcopter is equipped with four legs for stable landings. A camera mounted at the front of the unit improves aerial navigation. To charge an EV, the driver must remove the charging gun from the body of the drone. With that being said, it doesn't seem to be possible to charge the vehicle on the road. The EV still has to park the car or pull over on the side of the road to use the service.

Drone-based Services

Baek's concept for charging EVs is impressive, though by the time the technology is fully developed, EVs will likely come with more powerful batteries. Instead of EV charging services, drones have a higher chance of being used for seamless delivery services. On a commercial scale, UAVs capable of handling heavy payloads could increase productivity for businesses. The most highly anticipated services include medical products, emergency campsites and time-sensitive documents.

At the moment, there are several companies testing drone delivery services with vans, trucks and cargo vessels. Mercedes-Benz recently made headlines after successfully completing an on-demand drone trip with Siroop, a Switzerland-based online company.

"Interest in electric cars is growing around the world. Car brands around the world have released electric car products and are influencing not only the global economy but governments' policies," said Behance.

As for cutting-edge EV charging solutions, the next step in reaching as many remote locations as possible is mobile charging stations, via a bulky cart that can be wheeled around a parking lot.

The units may not be as flashy as a drone, but the clunky chargers do get the job done; and more importantly, they are already available. Furthermore, a group of mobile chargers can use old power cells and recharge via solar panels, making the setup useful for remote locations.

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