Method and Apparatus for Parking Space based Autonomous Charging System
1. An autonomous electric vehicle charger comprising:
- a charging robot configurable to automatically seek an electric vehicle for charging wherein the charging robot includes;
a plurality of motorized wheels configured to maneuver the charging robot;
a plurality of sensors configured to guide the charging robot;
a charging plug configured to be coupled to a receptacle for charging the electric vehicle;
an charging platform to support the charging plug to the receptacle for charging the electric vehicle; and
a power cord configured to be coupled to a power supply for supplying power to charge the electric vehicle.
An autonomous electric vehicle charger is disclosed. The autonomous electric vehicle charger comprises a charging robot configured to automatically seek an electric vehicle for charging wherein the charging robot includes a plurality of motorized wheels configured to maneuver the charging robot, a plurality of sensors configured to guide the charging robot, a charging plug configured to be coupled to a receptacle for charging the electric vehicle, an elevated charging platform configured to be raised for coupling the charging plug to the receptacle for charging the electric vehicle, and a retractable power cord configured to be coupled to a power supply for supplying power to the electric vehicle.
- 1. An autonomous electric vehicle charger comprising:
a charging robot configurable to automatically seek an electric vehicle for charging wherein the charging robot includes; a plurality of motorized wheels configured to maneuver the charging robot; a plurality of sensors configured to guide the charging robot; a charging plug configured to be coupled to a receptacle for charging the electric vehicle; an charging platform to support the charging plug to the receptacle for charging the electric vehicle; and a power cord configured to be coupled to a power supply for supplying power to charge the electric vehicle.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- 12. A method of operating an autonomous electric vehicle charger comprising the steps:
establishing a communication link between a charging robot and an electric vehicle; authenticating the electric vehicle is authorized to receive a charge from the charging robot; maneuvering the charging robot to the electric vehicle; elevating a charging plug to establish an electrical connection to a charging receptacle on the electric vehicle; charging the electric vehicle to a predetermined charge; retracting the charging plug to disconnect from the charging receptacle; and maneuvering the charging robot away from the electric vehicle.
- View Dependent Claims (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
This application claims priority from provisional patent application entitled “Method, Apparatus, and System for Charging an Electric Vehicle” filed on Apr. 12, 2018 and having application No. 62/656,863. Said application and any other referenced patents or patent applications herein are incorporated in its entirety by reference.
The disclosure generally relates to car chargers, and more particularly relates to an autonomous electric or hybrid vehicle charger.
Battery powered or electric vehicles are becoming more and more ubiquitous as consumers seek more eco-friendly alternatives to gasoline powered vehicles. A major challenge with battery powered or electric vehicles is maintaining a sufficient charge to the batteries of the electrical vehicle after reaching the destination or arriving back home. Typically, owners of electrical vehicles need to physically connect a charging cord to their electrical vehicle to charge the battery. The extra step of retrieving the power cord, connecting the power connector to a charging port, and activating the charger is not only time consuming but takes away from the spontaneity that car owners have been accustomed. For example, if there are groceries or other items that are also being transported, the user would need to allocate extra time and effort to ensure that the electrical vehicle is being charged in between trips.
Ensuring the electric vehicle is being charged when not in use is important since it often take an exceeding amount of time to charge the battery compared with operating the electrical vehicle and discharging the battery. Stated differently, it can take 12 or more hours to fully charge a battery of an electric vehicle whereas it may only take a couple hours to fully deplete the battery of the electric vehicle. In order to make owning electrical vehicles more appealing and less distractive, what is needed is an automated apparatus, method, and system that overcomes the burdensome tasks of having to physically retrieve the heavy electrical wire and plug, ensure proper connection of the plug, activate a charging sequence for charging the battery of the electrical vehicle, and later disconnect the connection to the plug, and stow away the heavy electrical wire and plug.
A novel method and apparatus for parking space based autonomous charging is disclosed. A designated electric vehicle is paired to securely communicate with a charging robot. A charging robot is in standby awaiting a designated electric vehicle. As a designated electric vehicle comes within communication range of the charging robot, the charging robot verifies user authentication and receives charging commands. Once the electric vehicle has parked, the charging robot verifies that the electric vehicle motor is not active. The charging robot moves to the location of the parked electric vehicle and aligns itself with a charging receptacle of the electric vehicle. After proper alignment, the charging robot raises the elevated charging platform to electrically couple a charging plug with the charging receptacle of the electric vehicle. Once charging is complete, the charging robot retracts the elevated charging platform to disconnect from the electric vehicle. The charging robot records the charging history and returns to base station for standby.
In an aspect of the present invention, the base station is coupled to a power supply, and the base station is electrically coupled to the charging robot and provides power to the charging robot for charging the electric vehicle.
In another aspect of the present invention, the base station is coupled to a 240v power supply.
In yet another aspect of the present invention, the base station is coupled to an electrical outlet of a certain voltage level, e.g. 110v or 220v. An advantage of using an electrical outlet is that it affords more flexibility in the placement of the base station to ensure that the charging robot is not impeded from accessing the electric vehicle to be charged.
In yet another aspect of the present invention, the charging robot includes at least one camera that is activated to ensure proper alignment is achieved between the charging plug and the charging receptacle.
In yet another aspect of the present invention, the charging robot includes a 240v outlet.
In yet another aspect of the present invention, the charging robot includes a 210v outlet.
The foregoing and other aspects of the disclosure can be better understood from the following detailed description of the embodiments when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
In the following detailed description of the embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration of specific embodiments in which the disclosure may be practiced. The present disclosure may, however, be embodied in different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. It is also appreciated that the terms such as “first”, “second”, “third”, etc. are used to distinguish between elements such terms describe. These terms are not necessarily intended to indicate temporal or prioritization of such elements, unless otherwise explicitly stated. Throughout the detailed description, references made to battery can include a single large battery or multiple smaller batteries.
A park and forget concept is based on an autonomous charging system having a charging robot that automatically detects and seeks out a parked vehicle for charging. The charging robot automatically connects to the charging receptacle of the vehicle to be charged and begins charging. Upon completion, the charging robot automatically disconnects from the charging receptacle and returns to its base station.
In operation, before the electric vehicle (not shown) leaves the parking space 13, the electrical vehicle has already established a secure communication link with the charging robot using a wireless Bluetooth signal, for example. In accordance to an embodiment of the present invention, the charging robot 17 is constantly sending a Bluetooth signal to ensure that the charging robot 17 can automatically pair with the electric vehicle once the electric vehicle is within range of the Bluetooth signal from the charging robot 17. As the electric vehicle nears its parking space, the electric vehicle detects the charging robot via the Bluetooth signal and sends a wireless charging request command to the charging robot 17. At the same time, the electric vehicle opens a door of a charging receptacle under the electric vehicle. The charging command from the vehicle includes the electrical vehicle'"'"'s user authentication information and charging commands based the vehicle'"'"'s current battery electrical level. Moreover, the charging commands can be manually set using an interface of the electrical vehicle, set by wireless mobile device, or home computer coupled to an authenticated wireless home network. If user authentication fails or no charging commands are issued to the charging robot 17, the charging robot remains at base station and continues to be in standby. Once user authentication of the electrical vehicle is verified and there is an authenticated charging command received by the charging robot 17, the charging robot begins operation for a charging sequence.
Before the charging robot 17 begins operation of a charging sequence, the charging robot 17 confirms that the electric vehicle motor is not active and is stationary and ready for charging. The charging robot 17 moves away from the base station 22 towards the electric vehicle based on for example an infrared beacon from the electric vehicle that the charging robot 17 detects. As the charging robot 17 moves towards the electric vehicle for charging, the charging robot 17 includes touch sensors to detect obstacles it may encounter and will reverse direction or change paths to avoid the obstacles. Accordingly, the charging robot 17 is able to maneuver to the destination of the charging receptacle for the electric vehicle. As the charging robot 17 moves to a location near the charging receptacle, the charging robot 17 includes cameras to detect an exact location of the charging receptacle and align the charging plug 30 for attachment to the electric vehicle. The charging robot 17 raises the charging plug 30 and the elevated charging platform 28 to attach the charging plug 30 to the electric vehicle.
Once a predetermined time limit has been reached, a desired charge to the battery has been obtained, or other charging parameter has been achieved, the elevated charging platform will disconnect and retracted back into the charging robot 17. Electrical circuits and sensors of the charging robot 17 can detect when the battery is full and will stop charging. An homing signal such as an infrared beacon from base station 22 is activated that the charging robot 17 detects and uses to return back to base station for standby. In an alternative embodiment, as in the case of an apartment complex or commercial property, users of the autonomous charging apparatus can have their electric vehicle charged according to a predetermined payment model, essentially creating a park and forget system. As shown in
In accordance to an embodiment of the present invention, the electric vehicle includes a computer with a communication link with the charging robot 17. The computer of the electric vehicle includes fail safes that can sense if the electric vehicle'"'"'s motor is active or inactive or if the electric vehicle is otherwise ready for charging. In a situation where the charging robot is still charging the vehicle and the driver of the electric vehicle may unexpectedly be in an urgent rush to leave, safe guards are in place. When the driver turns on the car, the computer of the electric vehicle senses the electric motor is on and immediately signals to the charging robot to stop charging and retract the elevated charging platform of the charging robot 17. As mentioned previously, the computer of the electric vehicle can be linked and controlled by a mobile app on a wireless mobile device, another remote mobile device, or remote computer to set up the charging sequence automatically after the car is parked based upon the battery charge level or other factors. Other information such as duration before full charge, charging status, charging history, billing, etc. can be accessed and stored on the electric vehicle computer, remote device, wireless mobile device, or cloud.
In an alternative embodiment, the retractable power cord of the charging robot can be disconnected to allow the charging robot to serve other parking spaces and base stations and thereby extend the range of the charging robot as well as minimizing the number of charging robots needed for a parking garage.
In yet another embodiment, referring to
While the disclosure has been described with reference to certain embodiments, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not limited to such embodiments. Rather, the disclosure should be understood and construed in its broadest meaning, as reflected by the following claims. Thus, these claims are to be understood as incorporating not only the apparatuses, methods, and systems described herein, but all those other and further alterations and modifications as would be apparent to those of ordinary skilled in the art.