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Honda Patent Shows New Robotic Arm That Charges EV Battery While Driving

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On: Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 5:35PM | By: Carl Malek

Honda Patent Shows New Robotic Arm That Charges EV Battery While Driving

The technology for electric vehicles has seen several prominent leaps in battery and charging technology over the past few years. Despite these innovations, EV vehicles are still not at the point of being just as convenient as gas-powered cars. However, a new patent from Honda proposes a unique, albeit questionable, solution to the challenge of charging while driving.

The patent in question shows and describes an unusual system: A vehicle would be equipped with a deployable robotic arm which would have an electrical contact on the end. When it is fully extended, the contact would ride in a specially constructed grooved rail beside the road. This rail would be connected to the electrical grid, and, in turn, would allow the car to charge the battery as it moves along the road. While the practical issues of such an idea are immense, the idea does have some legs; the setup is similar to how trolleys and bus networks used overhead wires to keep themselves powered when going up and down their assigned routes. At first glance this system does seem a bit antiquated, considering the strong place that wireless technology has in both automobiles as well as a society as a whole.

However, these systems also require a huge investment to keep them operational, though Honda's system could actually be cheaper to maintain especially since the rail can be installed when the road is built. Otherwise, it would be like a building a guardrail along every road in the country, which could be interesting at pedestrian crosswalks. But, like all novel ideas, this one has its fair share of drawbacks: The arms are subject to wear and tear, as well as possibly breaking off if the driver forgets to retract them and they catch a rouge pole or curb. Also while the rails would be easier to maintain, they would also need it more frequently, especially in snowy areas where the rails would be buried under snow, which would require them to be cleared. The contacts would also need to be inspected often since they would be rubbing against the rails at all times, creating friction which can degrade the conductance of the system over time.

Despite these obstacles Honda still deserves some credit for developing an idea to try to address this problem, though it could very well be surpassed by better and more modern technology. Considering that wireless systems could do the same task quicker, and without the frequent maintenance that a physical system would require to keep it fully and efficiently operational.

The whole idea is even harder to understand when you realize that Honda filed for a patent on an onboard contactless recharging system back in 1992.


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