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Title:
A CHARGING DEVICE FOR A FUNCTIONAL MODULE AND A VEHICLE ASSEMBLED FROM A SET OF MODULES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/221656
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a charging device (50) for a functional module (6), adapted to be connected to a drive module (1) for forming an assembled vehicle (2), the charging device (50) comprising a first contact element (52) adapted to be arranged at the functional module (6) and configured for transmitting electric power from an external power source (56) to at least one energy storage unit (12) in the functional module (6) and/or in the drive module (1), and a protective element (58), which at least partly surrounds the first contact element (52). The protective element (58) is arranged to be movable between a first and a second position (68, 69) in relation to the first contact element (52). The invention also relates to a vehicle (2) assembled from a set of modules (1, 6).

Inventors:
CLAESSON, André (Sågstuguvägen 19, Tullinge, 146 38, SE)
ÄHRLIG, Linus (Stenvägen 22, Västerhaninge, 137 37, SE)
SJÖDIN, Robert (Skogvaktarvägen 11, Nyköping, 611 44, SE)
Application Number:
SE2019/050423
Publication Date:
November 21, 2019
Filing Date:
May 13, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SCANIA CV AB (151 87 Södertälje, 151 87, SE)
International Classes:
B60L53/16; B60L53/80; B60S9/04; B62D25/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017054858A12017-04-06
Foreign References:
CA2743765A12009-06-04
US20180050626A12018-02-22
DE202012002846U12012-07-20
JP2014150642A2014-08-21
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AHLING, Annika (Scania CV AB, Södertälje, 151 87, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1 . A charging device (50) for a functional module (6), adapted to be connected to a drive module (1 ) for forming an assembled vehicle (2), the charging device (50) com prising:

a first contact element (52) adapted to be arranged at the functional module

(6) and configured for transmitting electric power from an external power source (56) to at least one energy storage unit (12) in the functional module (6) and/or in the drive module (1 ), and

a protective element (58), which at least partly surrounds the first contact ele- ment (52);

wherein the protective element (58) is arranged to be movable between a first and a second position (68, 69) in relation to the first contact element (52).

2. The charging device (50) according to claim 1 , wherein the protective element (58) in the first position (68) is arranged to isolate a terminal end (72) of the first contact element (52) from the external power source (56) and in the second position (69) is arranged to enable the terminal end (72) to transmit electric power from the external power source (56) to the at least one energy storage unit (12). 3. The charging device (50) according to any one of claims 1 and 2, wherein the pro tective element (58) is resilient and is at least partly movably arranged in relation to the first contact element (52) by compression of the protective element (58).

4. The charging device (50) according to any one of claims 1 and 2, wherein the pro- tective element (58) is movably arranged in relation to the first contact element (52) by displacement of the protective element (58).

5. The charging device (50) according to claim 4, further comprising at least one first spring (76) connected to the protective element (58), which first spring (76) acts to displace the protective element (58) towards the first position.

6. The charging device (50) according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising at least one second spring connected to the functional module and the first contact element. 7. The charging device (50) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first contact element (52) is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module (6).

8. The charging device (50) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first contact element (52) is adapted to be connected to a second contact element (60) connected to the external power source (56) and which second contact element (60) is arranged at a ground surface (56).

9. The charging device (50) according to claim 8, wherein the second contact ele- ment (60) comprises an electrical conductive material.

10. The charging device (50) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first contact element (52) comprises an electrical conductive material. 1 1. The charging device (50) according to any one of the claims 1 - 7, wherein the first contact element (52) is provided with an inductive conductor (62), which is con figured for transmitting electric power from the external power source (56) to the at least one energy storage unit (12). 12. A vehicle (2) assembled from a set of modules (1 , 6), the vehicle (2) comprising: at least one drive module (1 ); and

at least one functional module (6)

the vehicle (2) further comprising at least one charging device (50) according to any one of the preceding claims.

13. The vehicle (2) according to claim 12, wherein the drive module (1 ) comprises at least a pair of wheels (8) and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle (2).

14. The vehicle (2) according to any one of claims 12 - 13, wherein the vehicle (2) comprises two drive modules (1 ).

15. The vehicle (2) according to any one of claims 12 - 14, wherein one of the drive modules (1 ) is configured to operate as a master and the other drive module (1 ) and the functional module (6) is configured to operate as a slave.

Description:
A charging device for a functional module and a vehicle assembled from a set of modules TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a charging device for a functional module and a vehicle as sembled from a set of modules according to the appended claims. BACKGROUND

Vehicles of today are typically manufactured for a specific purpose, e.g. a bus is man ufactured for transporting people and a truck is manufactured for transporting goods. Such vehicles are typically manufactured and completely assembled in a factory or they may be partly assembled in a factory and completed at a body manufacturer. Once the vehicle is assembled, the vehicle may be used for the specific purpose. Thus, a bus may be used as a bus and a garbage truck may be used as a garbage truck. Different vehicles are thus needed for different purposes, which may require a large fleet of vehicles and which may be very costly. It may therefore be desired to be able to customize a vehicle depending on different missions. The vehicle may be provided with electric engines for the propulsion of the vehicle and also be provided with energy storage units, which provides the electric engines with electric power. The energy stor age units must be charged with electric power. There are, for example, known solutions where a truck can be rebuilt by changing a concrete mixer to a loading platform. This increases the flexibility and two different functions can be achieved by means of one single vehicle. Also, document US- 2018/0129958 A discloses a modular electric vehicle using interchangeable vehicle assembly modules. The user can thereby disassemble and reassemble the vehicle for use in different applications. Disassembling and reassembling such a vehicle would, however, be a very cumbersome and time consuming work. Furthermore, when a fail ure occurs in one of the known vehicle modules it may be difficult to replace the failing module, which may result in that the vehicle may be unusable for a considerable period of time. It may also be cumbersome to transport the replacing module to the site of the vehicle with the failing module.

SUMMARY

Despite known solutions in the art, it is desired to develop a charging device for a functional module, which charging device enables a simple and safe charging of en ergy storage units. Also, it is desired to develop a charging device for a functional module, which charging device is protected from debris from the surroundings.

An object of the invention is therefore to achieve a charging device for a functional module, which charging device enables a simple and safe charging of energy storage units. Another object of the invention is to achieve a charging device for a functional mod ule, which charging device is protected from debris from the surroundings.

The herein mentioned objects are achieved with a charging device for a functional module according to the appended claims.

According to an aspect of the invention a charging device for a functional module is provided, adapted to be connected to a drive module for forming an assembled vehi cle, the charging device comprising a first contact element adapted to be arranged at the functional module and configured for transmitting electric power from an external power source to at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module, and a protective element, which at least partly surrounds the first contact element, wherein the protective element is arranged to be movable between a first and a second position in relation to the first contact element. The above-mentioned objects are also achieved by a vehicle assembled from a set of modules according to the appended claims. According to an aspect of the invention a vehicle assembled from a set of modules is provided, the vehicle comprising at least one drive module and at least one functional module, the vehicle further comprising at least one charging device. By such a charging device for a functional module a simple and safe charging of en ergy storage units is enabled. Electric power from an external power source is trans ferred both simple and safe to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module. The protective element, which at least partly sur rounds the first contact element, and is adapted to be arranged at the functional mod- ule, protects the surroundings from coming in contact with electrically conductive parts of first contact element. The protective element also protects the first contact el ement from coming in contact with debris from the surroundings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element and thus reduce the transfer capabili ties of electric power of the first contact element. The protective element may be movable to a position on the first contact element in which the first contact element is at least partly surrounded by the protective element and to position which enables the first contact element to have contact with the external power source for transfer electric power to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module, if the functional module is connected to a drive module.

Providing the vehicle assembled from a set of modules with such a charging device, electric power from an external power source is transferred both simple and safe to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive mod ule. The protective element protects the surroundings from coming in contact with electrically conductive parts of first contact element. The protective element also pro tects the first contact element from coming in contact with debris from the surround ings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element and thus re duce the transfer capabilities of electric power of the first contact element. The vehi cle and thus the charging device may be exposed to debris from the surroundings both when the vehicle is moving and when the vehicle is parked and not moving.

At least one drive module may be used together with different functional modules. The functional modules may be designed for specific purposes. Therefore, by combining a drive module with a suitable functional module, it is possible to customize a vehicle depending on different missions. A functional module may be prepared to perform a specific function and the drive module, which may be autonomously operated, may connect with the functional module to achieve an assembled vehicle customized for a certain mission. The at least one functional module may be configured with a passen- ger compartment for accommodating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the at least one drive module. The charging device may be configured and adapted for different types of functional modules in order to provide a simple and safe charging of the energy storage units in the functional module and/or in the drive module. Charging of energy storage units in the drive module is possible if a drive module is connected to the functional module.

Additional objectives, advantages and novel features of the invention will be apparent to one skilled in the art from the following details, and through exercising the invention. While the invention is described below, it should be apparent that the invention may not be limited to the specifically described details. One skilled in the art, having access to the teachings herein, will recognize additional applications, modifications and incor porations in other areas, which are within the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Below is a description of, as examples, preferred embodiments with reference to the enclosed drawings, in which:

Figure 1 a schematically illustrates an assembled vehicle provided with a charging de- vice according to an embodiment;

Figure 1 b schematically illustrates a side view of a drive module and a functional mod ule provided with a charging device according to an embodiment; Figure 2 schematically illustrates a section view of a drive module according to an embodiment;

Figure 3a schematically illustrates an assembled vehicle provided with a charging de vice according to an embodiment; Figure 3b schematically illustrates a side view of two drive modules and a functional module provided with a charging device according to an embodiment; Figure 4a schematically illustrates a side view of a functional module provided with a charging device according to an embodiment;

Figure 4b schematically illustrates a side view of a functional module provided with a charging device according to an embodiment;

Figure 5a schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device according to an embodiment;

Figure 5b schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device according to an embodiment;

Figure 6a schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device according to an embodiment; and Figure 6b schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device according to an embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Modularised vehicles are typically assembled at the customer’s premises and the cus- tomer may thus buy a set of modules from a manufacturer. The assembled vehicle may comprise at least two modules including at least one drive module and at least one functional module. Such a modularised vehicle is applicable on all sorts of road vehicles and may thus relate to heavy vehicles, such as buses, trucks etc., which may be used on public roads. The at least one drive module may have at least one electric engine as a propulsion source. The at least one drive module and at least one functional module may be provided with energy storage units, which provides the at least one electric engine with electric power. The energy storage units must be charged with electric power. According to an aspect of the present disclosure a charging device for a functional module is provided, adapted to be connected to a drive module for forming an as sembled vehicle, the charging device comprising a first contact element adapted to be arranged at the functional module and configured for transmitting electric power from an external power source to at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module, and a protective element, which at least partly surrounds the first contact element, wherein the protective element is arranged to be movable between a first and a second position in relation to the first contact element.

The protective element, which at least partly surrounds the first contact element, pro- tects humans and animals in the surroundings from coming in contact with electrically conductive parts of first contact element. The protective element also protects the first contact element from being exposed to debris from the surroundings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element and thus reduce the transfer capabilities of electric power of the first contact element. The protective element is movable arranged on the first contact element.

At least one drive module may be used together with different functional modules. The functional modules may be designed for specific purposes. Therefore, by combining a drive module with a suitable functional module, it is possible to customize a vehicle depending on different missions. A functional module may be prepared to perform a specific function and the autonomously operated drive module may connect with the functional module to achieve an assembled vehicle customized for a certain mission. The at least one functional module may be configured with a passenger compartment for accommodating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the at least one drive module. The charging device may be configured and adapted for the type, size and weight of the functional module. Charging of energy storage units in the drive module is possible if a drive module is connected to the func tional module. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the protective element in the first position is arranged to isolate a terminal end of the first contact element from the external power source and in the second position is arranged to enable the terminal end to transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one en- ergy storage unit.

In the first position of the protective element, the first contact element is at least partly surrounded by the protective element and the protective element is arranged to iso late the terminal end of the first contact element from the external power source, so that the first contact element may not have any contact with the external power source. In the first position of the protective element will not be exposed to debris from the surroundings. In a second position of the protective element, the first contact element is at least partly surrounded by the protective element and the terminal end of the first contact element is exposed for the external power source, so that electric power from the external power source can be transmitted to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module. In the second posi tion of the protective element, the first contact element will not be exposed to debris from the surroundings since the first contact element is surrounded at least partly by the protective element.

According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the protective element is resili ent and is at least partly movably arranged in relation to the first contact element by compression of the protective element. The resilient material in the protective element allows the protective element to move to the second position when the protective element is compressed, such as when a load is exerted on the protective element. Such load exerted on the protective ele ment may be the load from the weight of the functional module. The load exerted on the protective element will compress the protective element, so that the terminal end of the first contact element is enable to transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit. The protective element may have a cylindrical shape provided with a longitudinal bore in which the first contact el ement is arranged. In a situation when no load is exerted to the resilient protective el- ement, the protective element is in the first position and is arranged to isolate the ter minal end of the first contact element from the external power source. When a load is exerted on the protective element, the length of the resilient protective element will be reduced. Since the protective element is resilient and is at least partly movably ar- ranged in relation to the first contact element, the relative movement will enable the terminal end of the first contact element to transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit. The relative movement of the protective element in relation to the first contact element will bring the terminal end of the first contact element to an end of the longitudinal bore of the cylindrical shaped protective element. This enables the terminal end of the first contact element to get close to the power source and thus transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit. The protective element is connected to the functional module and may be compressed between the functional module and the external power source.

According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the protective element is mov ably arranged in relation to the first contact element by displacement of the protective element. The protective element may be displaced between the first and the second position in relation to the first contact element. The protective element may be displaced when a load is exerted on the protective element. Such load exerted on the protective ele ment may be the load from the weight of the functional module. The displacement of the protective element in relation to the first contact element results in that the termi- nal end of the first contact element is enable to transmit electric power from the exter nal power source to the at least one energy storage unit. When the protective ele ment is in the first position, the protective element is arranged to isolate the terminal end of the first contact element from the external power source. The displacement of the protective element to the second position will enable the terminal end of the first contact element to transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit. The protective element may have a cylindrical shape provided with a longitudinal bore in which the first contact element is arranged. The relative movement of the protective element in relation to the first contact element will bring the terminal end of the first contact element to an end of the longitudinal bore of the cylindrical shaped protective element. This enables the terminal end of the first contact element to get close to the power source and thus transmit electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the charging device further comprising at least one first spring connected to the protective element, which first spring acts to displace the protective element towards the first position.

The protective element is displaced towards the second position when a load is ex- erted on the protective element. Such load exerted on the protective element may be the load from the weight of the functional module. The load should be larger than the spring force of the first spring, which spring force acts to displace the protective ele ment towards the first position. When the load exerted on the protective element in the direction of the second position ceases, the spring force of the first spring dis- places the protective element towards the first position. The first spring may be a coil spring, a plate spring, a leaf spring, a compressible rubber spring or the like. The first spring is on one side connected to the protective element and on another side con nected to the functional module. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the charging device further comprising at least one second spring connected to the functional module and the first contact element.

The second spring connected to the functional module and the first contact element may have a protective function on the first contact element and on the functional module. The protective element may be movably arranged in relation to the first con tact element. When a load acts on the protective element and the protective element reaches the second position, the load may also act on the first contact element. The at least one second spring connected to the functional module and the first contact element will act against this load and will have a dampening effect on the first contact element.

According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the first contact element is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module. The protective element may be movably arranged in relation to the first contact ele ment. When a load, resulting from the weight of the functional module, acts on the protective element and the protective element reaches the second position, this load or a part of this load will act on the first contact element. Since the first contact ele ment is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module, the first contact element is adapted to act as a stand for the functional module.

According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the first contact element is adapted to be connected to a second contact element connected to the external power source and which second contact element is arranged at a ground surface.

The second contact element may have a shape of a flat plate or disc, which is ar ranged at a ground surface. The first contact element may rest on the second contact element when the first contact element is adapted to be connected to a second con tact element. When a load, resulting from the weight of the functional module, acts on the first contact element, and the first contact element rests on the second contact el ement, the second contact element may be adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module. Thus the second contact element may act as a com- bined platform and charging station for the first contact element when the first contact element acts as a stand for the functional module. The second contact element may be integrated in the external power source. Therefore, the first contact element may be connected directly to the external power source. The second contact element is connected to the external power source and electric power is transmitted from the external power source to the at least one energy stor age unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module via the first and second contact elements when the first and second contact elements are connected. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the second contact element comprises an electrical conductive material. The second contact element, which is connected to the external power source com prises an electrical conductive material. The electrical conductive material of the sec ond contact element may be adapted to transmit electric power. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the first contact element com prises an electrical conductive material.

The first contact element may be configured for transmitting electric power through electrical conductive material in the first contact element. Both the first contact ele- ment and the second contact element may comprise electrical conductive material. When the first contact element is connected to the second contact element, electric power may be conductively transmitted from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive module. According to a further aspect of the present disclosure the first contact element is provided with an inductive conductor, which is configured for transmitting electric power from the external power source to the at least one energy storage unit.

Such an inductive conductor may be provided with an induction coil, which receives power from another induction coil in which an alternating electromagnetic field is cre ated from the power source. The other induction coil may be arranged in the second contact element, which is connected to the power source.

In addition to the protective element, which protects the surroundings from coming in contact with the first contact element, the risk for electric shock is minimal when the first contact element is provided with an inductive conductor. Such first contact ele ment provided with an inductive conductor is safe for the surroundings.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure a vehicle assembled from a set of modules is provided, the vehicle comprising at least one drive module and at least one functional module, the vehicle further comprising at least one charging device. Electric power from an external power source is transferred both simple and safe to the at least one energy storage unit in the functional module and/or in the drive mod ule of the assembled vehicle. The protective element protects the surroundings from coming in contact with electrically conductive parts of first contact element. The vehi- cle and thus the charging device may be exposed to debris from the surroundings both when the vehicle is moving and when the vehicle is parked and not moving. The protective element protects the first contact element from coming in contact with de bris from the surroundings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element and thus reduce the transfer capabilities of electric power of the first contact element.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure the drive module comprises at least a pair of wheels and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assem bled vehicle.

The drive module may be autonomously operated and be connected with the func tional module to achieve an assembled vehicle customized for a certain mission. The at least one functional module may be configured with a passenger compartment for accommodating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the at least one drive module. The charging device may be configured and adapted for different types of functional modules in order to provide a simple and safe charging of the energy storage units in the functional module and/or in the drive module. Charging of energy storage units in the drive module is possible if a drive module is connected to the functional module.

A drive module with at least a pair of wheels may have good manoeuvring abilities. The drive module may turn about a vertical axis that extends between the two wheels. The design of the drive module may also be very compact when two wheels are ar ranged at the drive module. With the drive module having two wheels, typically two drive modules are needed to assemble a vehicle, depending on whether the functional module comprises wheels or not. The pair of wheels may be arranged at the drive module, such that a centre axis of each wheel coincides with each other. Each wheel has a centre axis and may be ar ranged at the drive module so that each wheel may rotate about its centre axis. The centre axis of each wheel may thus be referred to as the rotational axis of each wheel. The centre axis of the wheels coinciding means that the centre axis of the wheels are aligned. By having the centre axis of each wheel coinciding with each other the drive module has good manoeuvring abilities. Also, the drive module may be able to make a pivoting movement about the coinciding centre axis of the two wheels. Thus, the drive module may be configured to pivot about the common centre axis of the two wheels. This pivoting movement of the drive module may be useful when connecting and disconnecting the drive module with other modules. The control device configured to operate the drive module as an independently driven unit may be configured to con trol the pivoting movement of the drive module. The propulsion unit of the drive module may be an electric machine, connected to the wheels. The pair of wheels of the drive module may thus be referred to as drive wheels. In one example, the drive module comprises two electrical machines, one connected to each wheel. The electric machines may be arranged in the rim of the wheels. The wheels of the drive module may thus be driven independently of each other. The elec- trie machines may also work as generators and generate electric energy when braking the wheels. The drive module may also comprise a steering system connected to the wheels. This way, the drive module is steerable. The drive module may also comprise a brake system for braking the wheels. The brake system may comprise a wheel brake for each wheel of the drive module. Redundancy is achieved in that the drive module can be steered by means of the electrical machines and/or the wheel brakes in the event that the steering system malfunctions.

The drive module being autonomously operated means that the control device of the drive module is configured to receive commands and instructions from an off-board system and to execute these commands/instructions. The autonomously operated drive module may thus be said to be self-operated based on received commands and instructions from the off-board system. The autonomously operated drive module may thus be self-operated without an on-board or off-board driver. The control device may be adapted to convert the commands to control signals for controlling the sys tems and components of the drive module and thereby control for example the steer ing and the propulsion of the drive module. This way, the drive module is self -driven based on the received commands and instructions. The control device may operate the drive module autonomously also based on data from the at least one sensor, tak ing situations that may happen during transportation into account.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure the vehicle comprises two drive modules.

Each drive module may then comprise one pair of wheels. By selecting the at least one functional module and two drive modules based on a function to be performed, a customized vehicle may be assembled, which is customized for the function to be performed. Also, an assembled vehicle may be achieved, which is adapted to the surroundings and the operating conditions of the vehicle. An assembled vehicle pro vided with two drive modules may have more power and may support larger and heavier vehicles than a vehicle provided with only one drive module. If one of the drive modules will lose power, the other drive module may take over and drive the vehicle.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure one of the drive modules is config ured to operate as a master and the other drive module and the functional module is configured to operate as a slave. A control device of one of the drive modules may be configured to operate the associ ated drive module as the master. A control device of the other drive module may be configured to operate the associated drive module as the slave. The master will decide how to operate the drive modules and thus how to operate the assembled vehicle. In addition, any further module, such as the functional module being connected to the drive module(s) and which comprises a control device, may become slave in the as sembled vehicle. Each drive module is associated with a registration number but only one registration number should be shown on an assembled vehicle. In the event that the assembled vehicle comprises two drive modules, the first control device may ap point one drive module to be master and the other to be slave. Typically, the master will be commanded to show its registration number and the slave will not show its registration number. The first control device may thus transmit instructions regarding registration number to the second control device of the at least one drive module. The charging device has been described in connection with a vehicle assembled from a set of modules. The charging device may however be used on a vehicle ar ranged in one piece.

The present disclosure will now be further illustrated with reference to the appended figures.

Figure 1 a schematically illustrates a side view of an assembled vehicle 2 comprising a drive module 1 and a functional module 6 provided with a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The drive module 1 comprises a pair of wheels 8 and is configured to be autonomously operated, which means that the assembled vehicle 2 is configured to be autonomously operated. The functional module 6 may be provided with wheels 8, but generally a functional module 6 cannot move on its own. Instead, the functional module 6 needs to be connected to at least one drive module 1 to be able to move. The functional module 6 may accommodate or supporting a load. The at least one functional module 6 may be configured for transporting goods and may thus function as a truck when being assembled with at least one drive module 1. In fig. 1 a the drive module 1 and the functional module 6 are physically connected to each other, so that interfaces 14 arranged on the drive module 1 and the functional module 6 are physi cally connected to each other. A control device 16, 70 is comprised in any of the two modules 1 , 6. The drive module 1 may comprise a control device which hereinafter will be referred to as a first control device 16. The functional module 6 may comprise a control device, which hereinafter will be referred to as a second control device 70. The charging device 50 comprises a first contact element 52 and is adapted to be arranged at the functional module 6. The charging device 50 may be arranged on an underside of the functional module 6 and directed downwards. When the vehicle 2 is assembled the charging device 50 is arranged at a distance from the ground surface 54. When the vehicle 2 is parked and/or disassembled, which is described in connection with fig. 1 b the charging device 50 may rest on the ground surface 54 and be configured for transmitting electric power from an external power source 56 to at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1.

Figure 1 b schematically illustrates a side view where the drive module 1 has been physically disconnected from the assembled vehicle 2 and thus from the functional module 6, so that the drive module 1 and the functional module 6 are separated. In fig. 1 b also the drive module 1 has been moved in direction away from the functional module 6, which is the remaining module of the assembled vehicle 2. The first con tact element 52 of the charging device is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module 6. A load resulting from the weight of the functional module 6, acts on the first contact element 52. The first contact element 52 is adapted to act as a stand for the functional module 6. When the first contact element 52 of the charging device 50 rests on the ground surface 54 it may transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1.

Fig. 2 schematically illustrates a drive module 1 in a section view. The drive module 1 may comprise a pair of wheels 8. The wheels 8 may be arranged at the first and second sides 28, 30 of the drive module 1. One wheel 8 may be arranged at the first side 28 and the other wheel 8 may be arranged at the second side 30. A steering unit 40 may be connected to the wheels 8. The steering unit 40 may make the drive module 1 steerable. The pair of wheels 8 may be so arranged at the drive module 1 that a centre axis 43 of each wheel 8 coincides with each other. Each wheel 8 has a centre axis 43 and may be arranged at the drive module 1 so that each wheel 8 may rotate about its centre axis 43. When the centre axis 43 of each wheel 8 coincides with each other the drive module 1 has good manoeuvring abilities. Also, the drive module 1 may be con figured to enable a pivoting movement about the coinciding centre axis 43 of the two wheels 1. This pivoting movement of the drive module 1 may be useful when connect ing and disconnecting the drive module 1 with other modules 6. The first control device 16 configured to operate the drive module 1 as an independently driven unit may con trol the pivoting movement of the drive module 1 .

The drive module 1 may comprise at least two interfaces 14 for transferring electric energy and/or transmitting electric signals, and for physically connection. The drive module 1 may comprise at least one propulsion unit 10 connected to the pair of wheels 8. The propulsion unit 10 may be an electric machine connected to the wheels 8. Two electric machines may be arranged as propulsion units 10 in the drive module 1. One electric machine 10 may be connected to one wheel 8 and the other electric machine 10 may be connected to the other wheel 8. The electric machines 10 may be arranged in the rim 42 of the wheels 8. The wheels 8 may thereby be driven independently of each other. The electric machines 10 may also work as generators and generate electric energy when braking the wheels 8. Instead of electric machines 10 as a propulsion unit 10, the at least one propulsion unit 10 may be an internal com bustion engine, such as an otto engine or a diesel engine connected to the wheels 8.

The drive module 1 may comprise at least one energy storage unit 12 for providing the propulsion unit 10 with energy. In the case where the propulsion unit 10 is an electric engine, the energy storage unit 12 may be an electric battery. The electric battery may be recharged with electric energy. Alternatively, when the electric battery is dis charged, the electric battery may be replaced by another charged electric battery. In the case where the propulsion unit 10 is an internal combustion engine, the energy storage unit 12 may be a fuel tank with fuel suitable for the internal combustion engine.

The drive module 1 may comprise a separate closed cooling system 22, for cooling the at least one propulsion unit 10 and the at least one energy storage unit 12. Provided with a separate closed cooling system 22 the drive module 1 may be operated as an independently driven unit, without any need of an external cooling arrangement. Also, the drive module 1 does not have to be connected to a cooling system of a functional module 6. The separate closed cooling system 22 may be based on a liquid coolant or based on a forced flow of cooling air.

As mentioned above the drive module 1 may comprise a first control device 16. The first control device 16 may be configured to operate the drive module 1 as an inde pendently driven unit. The drive module 1 may transport itself without any external driven unit such as a towing vehicle 2. The drive module 1 may transport itself by means of the at least one propulsion unit 10. The drive module 1 may be configured to be autonomously operated. Thus, the first control device 16 may be configured to con trol the operation of the drive module 1. The first control device 16 may be configured to transmit control signals to the various systems and components of the drive module 1 for controlling for example the steering and the propulsion of the drive module 1. The first control device 16 may be adapted to operate the drive module 1 autonomously based on received commands. The first control device 16 may thus be adapted to receive commands from a remotely located off-board system or a control centre 20 and to convert the command into control signals for controlling the various systems and components of the drive module 1. The first control device 16 may also be config- ured to receive data about the surroundings from at least one second sensor element 45, and based on this data control the drive module 1. The first control device 16 may be implemented as a separate entity or distributed in two or more physical entities. The first control device 16 may comprise one or more computers. The first control device 16 may thus be implemented or realised by the first control device 16 comprising a processor and a memory.

As mentioned above, the drive module 1 may be configured to constitute a part of an assembled vehicle 2. Such a vehicle 2 assembled from a set of modules 1 , 6. The assembled vehicle 2 may comprise at least one functional module 6. The assembled vehicle 2 may further comprise at least one drive module 1 as disclosed in figures 1 a and 1 b. The assembled vehicle 2 may comprise two drive modules 1. The drive module 1 may be adapted to be configured based on a function to be performed by the drive module 1 itself or as an assembled vehicle 2. However, the drive module 1 may itself thus constitute a vehicle.

The drive module 1 may be adapted to be releasably connected to either a second drive module 1 and/or a functional module 6 for forming an assembled vehicle 2. At least one of the sides of the drive module 1 may thus have a shape that allows the drive module 1 to be releasably connected to the second drive module 1 and/or the functional module 6.

The at least two interfaces 14 may be physical interfaces 14, arranged to physically connect the drive module 1 with the second drive module 1 and/or the functional mod ule 6. The drive module 1 may comprise at least two interfaces 14, each arranged on different sides of the drive module 1 . The interfaces 14 of the drive module 1 may be releasably connectable to a corresponding interface 14 of the second drive module 1 and/or the functional module 6. Thus, each module in the set of modules 1 , 6 may comprise at least one interface 14, which may be releasably connectable to a corresponding inter face 14 on another module.

The at least two interfaces 14 may be electric interfaces 14, arranged for transferring electric power and/or transmitting electric signals between the drive module 1 and the second drive module 1. The electrical interface 14 may be a wireless interface 14 or a conductive interface 14. By connecting the drive module 1 and the functional module 6 electrically the modules 1 , 6 may transfer power between each other and also share information. The drive module 1 may, for example, control parts of the functional mod- ule 6, such as opening and closing of doors, heating and cooling.

The drive module 1 may comprise at least one second sensor element 45 for detecting and registering objects in the surrounding of the drive module 1. The at least one sec ond sensor element 45 may be a proximity sensor for detecting and registering the distance to objects, such as vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights and/or buildings. Based on information from at least one second sensor element 45, the drive module 1 may be operated such that a safe distance to the surrounding objects is maintained and accidents avoided. The at least one second sensor element 45 may be a radar, a lidar or a camera.

Figure 3a schematically illustrates a side view of an assembled vehicle 2 comprising two drive modules 1 and a functional module 6 provided with a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The at least one functional module 6 may be configured with a passenger compartment 49 for accommodating passengers and may thus func- tion as a bus 41 when being assembled with the drive modules 1. It is to be understood that the shape of the two drive modules 1 may be identical and are configured as the drive module 1 described above. In fig. 3a the drive modules 1 are connected to the functional module 6 and the interfaces 14 of the drive modules 1 and the functional module 6 are thus connected with each other. By selecting the at least one functional module 6 and two drive modules 1 based on a function to be performed a customized vehicle 2 can be assembled, which may be suitable for a function to be performed. Also, an assembled vehicle 2 may be achieved, which is adapted to the surroundings and the operating conditions of the vehicle 2. Different configurations of the drive module 1 may be required when the drive modules 1 form part of the assembled vehicle 2 performing the function of transporting people, transporting goods, shovelling snow etc. The drive modules 1 may also be adapted to be dynamically configured based on the surroundings in which the assembled vehicle 2 will perform its function. The charging device 50 comprises a first contact element 52 is adapted to be arranged at the underside of the functional module 6. Several charging devices 50 may be arranged on the functional module 6.

In fig. 3b the drive modules 1 and the functional module 6 have been physically dis- connected from the assembled vehicle 2 and thus from the functional module 6, so that the drive modules 1 and the functional module 6 are separated from each other. In fig. 3b the drive modules 1 have been moved in direction away from the functional module 6. The first contact element 52 is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module 6. A load resulting from the weight of the functional module 6, acts on the first contact element 52. The first contact element 52 may be adapted to act as a stand for the functional module 6. The first contact element 52 is configured for transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module. The first contact element 52 may also be configured for transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the drive module 1 , if a drive module

1 is connected to the functional module 6. An external power source 56 may be ar ranged for each charging device 50.

Figure 4a schematically illustrates a side view of a functional module 6 provided with a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. Two charging devices 50 are shown in the embodiment. Each charging device 50 may comprise a first contact ele ment 52 adapted to be arranged at the functional module 6 and configured for trans mitting electric power from an external power source 56 to at least one energy stor age unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1. The first contact element 52 may be connected to the energy storage unit 12 by means of cables 59.

A protective element 58, which at least partly surrounds the first contact element 52, protects humans and animals in the surroundings from coming in contact with electri cally conductive parts of first contact element 52. The protective element 58 also pro- tects the first contact element 52 from being exposed to debris from the surround ings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element 52 and thus reduce the transfer capabilities of electric power of the first contact element 52. The first contact element 52 is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module 6. Load resulting from the weight of the functional module 6 may act on the first contact element 52. Since the first contact element 52 is adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the functional module 6, the first contact ele ment 52 is adapted to act as a stand for the functional module 6.

The first contact element 52 is adapted to be connected to a second contact element 60 connected to the external power source 56 and which second contact element 60 is arranged at the ground surface 54. The second contact element 60 may have a shape of a flat plate or disc, which is arranged at a ground surface 54. The first con tact element 52 may rest on the second contact element 60 when the first contact el ement 52 is connected to the second contact element 60. When a load, resulting from the weight of the functional module 6, acts on the first contact element 52, and the first contact element 52 rests on the second contact element 60, the second con tact element 60 may be adapted to bear or at least partly bear the weight of the func tional module 6. Thus the second contact element 60 may act as a combined plat form and charging station for the first contact element 52 when the first contact ele- ment 52 acts as a stand for the functional module 6. The second contact element 60 is connected to the external power source 56 by means of cables 59 and electric power is transmitted from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1 via the first and second contact elements 52, 60 when the first and second contact elements 52, 60 are connected to each other. The second contact element 60 comprises an electrical conductive material. The sec ond contact element 60, which is connected to the external power source 56 com prises an electrical conductive material. The electrical conductive material of the sec ond contact element 60 may be adapted to transmit electric power.

The first contact element comprises 52 an electrical conductive material. The first contact element 52 may be configured for transmitting electric power through electri cal conductive material in the first contact element 52. Both the first contact element 52 and the second contact element 60 may comprise electrical conductive material. When the first contact element 52 is connected to the second contact element 60, electric power may be conductively transmitted from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1. Figure 4b schematically illustrates a side view of a functional module 6 provided with a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The first contact element 52 is provided with an inductive conductor 62, which is configured for transmitting electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. The first contact element 52 may be connected to the energy storage unit 12 by means of cables 59.

Such an inductive conductor 62 may be provided with a first induction coil 64, which receives power from a second induction coil 66 in which an alternating electromag netic field is created from the external power source 56. The second induction coil 66 may be arranged in the second contact element 60, which is connected to the exter nal power source 56 by means of cables 59.

In addition to the protective element 58, which protects the surroundings from coming in contact with the first contact element 52, the risk for electric shock is minimal when the first contact element 52 is provided with an inductive conductor 62. Such first con tact element 52 provided with an inductive conductor 62 is safe for the surroundings.

The functional module may be arranged with a separate stand 67, in addition to the charging device 50. Figure 5a schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The protective element 58, which at least partly surrounds the first contact element 52, is arranged to be movable between a first position 68 and a sec- ond position 69 in relation to the first contact element 52. The protective element 58 protects humans and animals in the surroundings from coming in contact with electri cally conductive parts of the first contact element 52. The protective element 58 also protects the first contact element 52 from being exposed to debris from the surround ings, which may have an aggressive impact on the first contact element 52 and thus reduce the transfer capabilities of electric power of the first contact element 52. The protective element 58 is movable arranged on the first contact element 52.

The first contact element 52 is adapted to be connected to the second contact ele ment 60 connected to the external power source 56 and which second contact ele- ment 60 is arranged at the ground surface 54. The second contact element 60 may have a shape of a flat plate or disc, which is arranged at a ground surface 54. The protective element 58 in the first position is arranged to isolate a terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 from the second contact element 60 and thus the exter nal power source 56.

In the first position 68 of the protective element 58, the first contact element 52 is at least partly surrounded by the protective element 58 and the protective element 58 is arranged to isolate the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 from the exter nal power source 56, so that the first contact element 52 may not have any contact with the second contact element 60 and thus the external power source 56. In the first position 68 of the protective element 58 will not be exposed to debris from the surroundings.

The protective element 58 is resilient and is at least partly movably arranged in rela- tion to the first contact element 52 by compression of the protective element 58.

The resilient material in the protective element 58 allows the protective element 58 to move to the second position 69 when the protective element 58 is compressed, such as when a load is exerted on the protective element 58. Such load exerted on the protective element 58 may be the load from the weight of the functional module 6.

The load exerted on the protective element 58 will compress the protective element 58, so that the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 may connect to the second contact element 60 and thus is enable to transmit electric power from the ex- ternal power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. The protective ele ment 58 may have a cylindrical shape provided with a longitudinal bore 74 in which the first contact element 52 is arranged. In a situation when no load is exerted to the resilient protective element 58, the protective element 58 is in the first position 68 and is arranged to isolate the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 from the ex- ternal power source 56.

The charging device 50 further comprising at least one second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact element 52. The second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact ele ment 52 may have a protective function on the first contact element 52 and on the functional module 6. The protective element 58 may be movably arranged in relation to the first contact element 52. When a load acts on the protective element 58 and the protective element 58 reaches the second position 69, the load may also act on the first contact element 52. The at least one second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact element 52 will act against this load and will have a dampening effect on the first contact element 52.

Figure 5b schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. In the second position 69 of the protective element 58, the termi nal end is enabled to transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. In the second position 69 of the protective ele ment 58, the first contact element 52 is at least partly surrounded by the protective element 58 and the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 is exposed for and connected to the second contact element 60, so that electric power from the external power source 56 can be transmitted to the at least one energy storage unit 12 in the functional module 6 and/or in the drive module 1. In the second position 69 of the protective element 58, the first contact element 52 will not be exposed to debris from the surroundings since the first contact element 52 is surrounded at least partly by the protective element 58.

When a load is exerted on the protective element 58, the length of the resilient pro- tective element 58 will be reduced due to compression of the resilient protective ele ment 58. Since the protective element 58 is resilient and is at least partly movably ar ranged in relation to the first contact element 52, the relative movement will enable the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 to contact and connect to the sec ond contact element 60 for transmitting electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. The relative movement of the protective element 58 in relation to the first contact element 52 will bring the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 to an end of the longitudinal bore 74 of the cy lindrical shaped protective element 58. This enables the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 to get close to the second contact element 60 and the external power source 56 and thus transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. The protective element 58 is connected to the functional module 6 and may be compressed between the functional module 6 and the second contact element 60. Figure 6a schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The protective element 58 is movably arranged in relation to the first contact element 52 by displacement of the protective element 58. The protective element 58 may be displaced between the first and the second position 68, 69 in re lation to the first contact element 52. The protective element 58 may be displaced when a load is exerted on the protective element 58. Such load exerted on the pro tective element 58 may be the load from the weight of the functional module 6. The displacement of the protective element 58 in relation to the first contact element 52 results in that the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 will connect to the second contact element 60 and thus is enable to transmit electric power from the ex- ternal power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. When the protec tive element 58 is in the first position 68, the protective element 58 is arranged to iso late the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 from the second contact ele ment 60 and the external power source 56. The charging device 50 further comprising at least one first spring 76 connected to the protective element 58, which first spring 76 acts to displace the protective ele ment 58 towards the first position 68. The protective element 58 is displaced towards the second position 69 when a load is exerted on the protective element 58. Such load exerted on the protective element 58 may be the load from the weight of the functional module 6. The load should be larger than the spring force of the first spring 76, which spring force acts to displace the protective element 58 towards the first po sition 68. When the load exerted on the protective element 58 in the direction of the second position 69 ceases, the spring force of the first spring 76 displaces the pro- tective element 58 towards the first position 68. The first spring 76 may be a coil spring, a plate spring, a leaf spring, a compressible rubber spring or the like. The first spring 76 is on one side connected to the protective element 58 and on another side connected to the functional module 6. Figure 6b schematically illustrates a section view of a charging device 50 according to an embodiment. The displacement of the protective element 58 to the second po sition 69 will enable the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 to contact and connect to the second contact element 60 and thus transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12. The protective element 58 may have a cylindrical shape provided with a longitudinal bore 74 in which the first contact element 52 is arranged. The relative movement of the protec tive element 58 in relation to the first contact element 52 will bring the terminal end 72 of the first contact element 52 to an end of the longitudinal bore 74 of the cylindri cal shaped protective element 58. This enables the terminal end 72 of the first con- tact element 52 to get close to the second contact element 60 and the external power source 56 and thus transmit electric power from the external power source 56 to the at least one energy storage unit 12.

The charging device 50 further comprising at least one second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact element 52.

The second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact ele ment 52 may have a protective function on the first contact element 52 and on the functional module 6. The protective element 58 may be movably arranged in relation to the first contact element 52. When a load acts on the protective element 58 and the protective element 58 reaches the second position 69, the load may also act on the first contact element 52. The at least one second spring 78 connected to the functional module 6 and the first contact element 52 will act against this load and will have a dampening effect on the first contact element 52.

The foregoing description of the embodiments has been furnished for illustrative and descriptive purposes. It is not intended to be exhaustive, or to limit the embodiments to the variants described. Many modifications and variations will obviously be apparent to one skilled in the art. The embodiments have been chosen and described in order to best explicate principles and practical applications, and to thereby enable one skilled in the art to understand the embodiments in terms of its various embodiments and with the various modifications that are applicable to its intended use. The components and features specified above may, within the framework of the embodiments, be combined between different embodiments specified.