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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD OF CHARGING AN ELECTRICALLY-POWERED, RECHARGEABLE TARGET OBJECT ON LAND OR WATER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/094900
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system and method of recharging an electric target object (e.g., a land vehicle, watercraft, power station, etc.). The system is an autonomously-operated charging vehicle configured to recharge the target object. The charging system includes an energy source and an electric charge transferring member. The charging system may operate in either one of at least three methods of operation, or a combination thereof. In a first mode, upon the request of an operator of a mobile target object the charging system engages and transfers an electric charge to the mobile target object, while both the charging system and target object are underway. In a second mode, a centralized network processor and communicator monitors, coordinates and effectuates engagement and recharging of a mobile target object by a nearby charging system. In a third mode, a charging system, upon request or by schedule, locates and recharges a target object.

Inventors:
PORTER, Andre Joseph (1717 Edwards Street, Houston, TX, 77007, US)
MANUEL, Todd Sinclaire (14004 Memorial Tower Drive, Baton Rouge, LA, 70810, US)
MURPHY, Keith John (6 Smokey Ridge Road, Simsbury, CT, 06070, US)
Application Number:
US2018/060663
Publication Date:
May 16, 2019
Filing Date:
November 13, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PORTER, Andre Joseph (1717 Edwards Street, Houston, TX, 77007, US)
MANUEL, Todd Sinclaire (14004 Memorial Tower Drive, Baton Rouge, LA, 70810, US)
MURPHY, Keith John (6 Smokey Ridge Road, Simsbury, CT, 06070, US)
International Classes:
B60L11/18; B60L11/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015160937A12015-10-22
Foreign References:
US20150066279A12015-03-05
US20090079388A12009-03-26
US20160297316A12016-10-13
US20150226567A12015-08-13
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PORTER, Andre Joseph (1717 Edwards Street, Houston, TX, 77007, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

We claim:

1. A method of charging a parked, mobile, or stationary target object using a mobile charging system, comprising:

obtaining a request to charge the parked, mobile, or stationary target object and a location of the parked, mobile, or stationary target object;

moving the mobile charging system into operable proximity with the parked, mobile, or stationary target object; and

creating a charging circuit between the mobile charging vehicle and target object without human intervention.

2. The method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the parked or mobile target object is a vehicle.

3. The method as claimed in claim 2, wherein the vehicle is a land vehicle or watercraft.

4. The method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the stationary target object is a power station.

5. The method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising charging the parked, mobile, or stationary target object.

6. A method of obtaining an electrical charge for a mobile target object from a mobile charging system while underway, comprising:

requesting a charge for the mobile target object;

positioning the target object near the mobile charging system either autonomously, through human intervention or a combination of the foregoing; and

creating a charging circuit between the mobile target object and mobile charging system while both the mobile target object and mobile charging system are underway.

7. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the requesting a charge includes communicating from the mobile target object at least one of location, speed and direction.

8. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the positioning includes matching speed and direction of the mobile target object.

9. The method as claimed in claim 8, wherein the positioning further includes bringing the mobile charging system into energy transfer range of the mobile target object.

10. The method as claimed in claim 9, wherein the energy transfer range is a physical connection range.

11. The method as claimed in claim 10, wherein the energy transfer range is a wireless connection range.

12. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein creating the charging circuit includes establishing an electrical connection for a positive side of a circuit and establishing a ground.

13. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein creating the charging circuit includes magnetically coupling a positive electrode between the mobile changing system and the target object.

14. The method as claimed in claim 6, further comprising encountering the mobile charging system.

15. The method as claimed in claim 14, wherein the encountering is one of requested, planned or random.

16. The method as claimed in claim 6, wherein the mobile target object is a vehicle.

17. The method as claimed in claim 16, wherein the vehicle is a land vehicle or watercraft.

18. A system for maintaining a power source above a selected minimum level in a mobile target object in route to a selected destination, comprising:

a centralized network communicator to communicate with a mobile target object traveling on a route to a selected destination;

a mobile charging system responsive to communications received from the communicator; and

an energy disposition feature electrically connected to the mobile charging system, the energy disposition feature having a circuit ground and a positive electrode operably connectable to the target object to create a charging circuit between the mobile charging system and the mobile target object.

19. The system as claimed in claim 18, further including a communicator in the mobile target object communicative with the network communicator, the mobile target object further having a power source and a power quantity detector in operable communication with the mobile target object communicator.

20. A mobile power distribution network comprising:

a centralized network processor controlling a centralized network communicator; a plurality of mobile charging systems distributed over a geographical area and in communication with the network communicator; a plurality of stationary or mobile target objects distributed over a geographical area and in communication with the network communicator, the network processor monitoring and or predicting power availability for the plurality of target objects and projecting opportune recharging times and locations for the plurality of target objects.

21. The network as claimed in claim 20, wherein the plurality of target objects includes a power quantity detector operably connected to a target object communicator that relays power quantity direction, speed, projected power usage and destination to the network communicator.

22. The network as claimed in claim 20, wherein the network processor monitors location of the plurality of mobile charging systems and plots intercept courses for ones of the plurality of mobile charging systems with ones of the plurality of target objects when the ones of the plurality of target objects require charging or will require charging at a geographical location or a point in time when a one of the plurality of mobile charging systems cannot intercept the target object.

23. The network as claimed in claim 18, wherein the network processor includes road map software to provide travel directions to the mobile charging systems on intercept courses for ones of the plurality of target objects.

Description:
SYSTEM AND METHOD OF CHARGING AN ELECTRICALLY-POWERED, RECHARGEABLE TARGET OBJECT ON LAND OR WATER

BACKGROUND

[0001] This invention pertains to a system and method of charging an electrically powered mobile or stationary target object on land or water by establishing an electrical connection between the target object and an autonomously-operable mobile charging system, in some instances, while underway.

[0002] With the advent of electric vehicles, development of high-powered batteries with extended battery life has been on going to achieve longer operating times and greater travel distances. An ongoing problem associated with use of a fully electric vehicle is the amount of time required to charge its battery. This may inconvenience an operator, particularly if the operator's trip exceeds the maximum distance specified by the

manufacturer, thus requiring the operator to either limit the distance they travel to the manufacturer's specified maximum range or interrupt their travel to recharge the battery.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Disclosed herein are a system and methods of charging a rechargeable electrically-powered land- or water-operable, parked, mobile, or stationary target object, for example, an electrically-powered land vehicle as illustrated in FIG. 1. In one embodiment, disclosed herein is a method of charging a parked, mobile, or stationary target object using a mobile charging system, including obtaining a request to charge the parked, mobile, or stationary target object and a location of the parked, mobile, or stationary target object;

moving the mobile charging system into operable proximity with the parked, mobile, or stationary target object; and creating a charging circuit between the mobile charging vehicle and target object without human intervention. In another embodiment, disclosed herein is a method of obtaining an electrical charge for a mobile target object from a mobile charging system while underway, including requesting a charge for the mobile target object;

positioning the target object near the mobile charging system either autonomously, through human intervention or a combination of the foregoing; and creating a charging circuit between the mobile target object and mobile charging system while both the mobile target object and mobile charging system are underway. In another embodiment, disclosed herein is a system for maintaining a power source above a selected minimum level in a mobile target object in route to a selected destination, including a centralized network communicator to communicate with a mobile target object traveling on a route to a selected destination; a mobile charging system responsive to communications received from the communicator; and an energy disposition feature electrically connected to the mobile charging system, the energy disposition feature having a circuit ground and a positive electrode operably connectable to the target object to create a charging circuit between the mobile charging system and the mobile target object. In yet another embodiment, disclosed herein is a mobile power distribution network, including a centralized network processor controlling a centralized network communicator; a plurality of mobile charging systems distributed over a

geographical area and in communication with the network communicator; a plurality of stationary or mobile target objects distributed over a geographical area and in communication with the network communicator, the network processor monitoring and or predicting power availability for the plurality of target objects and projecting opportune recharging times and locations for the plurality of target objects.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0004] FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of an autonomously-operable, land mobile charging system and a mobile target object.

[0005] FIG. 2 is a flowchart illustrating an exemplary embodiment of an

autonomously-operable, land- or water-operable mobile charging system.

[0006] FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of an electric charge transferring and receiving member for establishing a physical electrical connection and for transferring an electric charge.

[0007] FIGS. 4A and 4B are schematic diagrams illustrating exemplary embodiments of an exchange of communications between processors of an autonomously-operable, land- or water-operable mobile charging system, a mobile target object, and a central network.

[0008] FIGS. 5 A, 5B and 5C are flowcharts illustrating various methods of operation of an exemplary embodiment of autonomously-operable, land- or water-operable mobile charging system for charging a parked, mobile, or stationary target object.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0009] Disclosed herein is a system and methods of charging a rechargeable electrically-powered land- or water-operable, parked, mobile, or stationary target object 18, for example, an electrically-powered land vehicle as illustrated in FIG. 1. Other electrically- powered land- or water-operable target objects include, for example, watercrafts, amphibious vehicles, construction and farming equipment (e.g., cranes, bulldozers, tractors, etc.), and power stations (e.g., a power distribution substation able to receive power from a mobile vehicle and distribute the power to, for example, other target objects). The system 2 is configured to be mobile and able to transfer electrical power to a target object by establishing an electrical connection with target object 18, in some instances, while underway. System 2 includes a land- or water-operable mobile charging vehicle 4 configured to operate autonomously using an autopilot system 6, an energy source 8 transportable by mobile charging vehicle 4, an electric charge transfer member 10, a processor 12, a communicator 14 and antenna 16. Energy source 8 includes one or more of an energy storage member (e.g., battery or capacitor) 19, solar panel 20, and an electrical power generator 22 (e.g., fueled electric generator, hydrogen fuels, etc.), or combinations including one or more of the foregoing, and may be configured to allow for the continuous supply of an electric charge to mobile charging vehicle 4 and component parts thereof, and to electric charge transferring member 10 for establishing a physical connection or wireless electrical connection (e.g., electromagnetic induction, magnetic resonances, etc.) with an electric charge receiving member 24 of target object 18 when in an energy transferring range. Once an electric connection is established, energy storage member (e.g., battery) 26 of mobile target object 18 may be supplied power by energy source 8.

[0010] Autonomously-operable, mobile charging system 2 may be configured to operate in either one of at least three modes, or a combination thereof. In a first mode, one or more mobile charging systems 2 distributed over a geographical area covering land or water traverse a route (either predetermined or random) and provide an electric charge, upon request, to approaching mobile target objects 18 by establishing an electrical connection therewith. In a second mode, one or more mobile charging systems 2 distributed over a geographical area covering land or water are in communication with a network communicator controlled by a centralized network processor 56. The centralized network processor 56 may be configured to continuously monitor, and optionally control, one or more operating parameters (e.g., speed, direction, route, availability, destination, etc.) of mobile charging vehicle 4, and to monitor operating information (e.g., speed, direction, route, destination, power quantity, remaining range of travel, operating time, etc.) of a mobile target object 18 generated by its processor 28 and transmitted by its communicator 30 via antenna 32.

Centralized network processor and network communicator 56 coordinate and effectuate the pairing and engagement between an available mobile charging system 2 nearest mobile target object 18 as mobile target object 18 is either nearing a predetermined power quantity or approaching an area where a mobile charging system 2 may not be available or present at a point in which mobile target object 18 is predicted to reach its predetermined power quantity, while underway. In a third mode, a mobile charge system 2, upon request by an operator or on a prescheduled basis, locates and engages a parked, mobile target object 18 or stationary target object (not shown; e.g., a power station such as a power substation), establishes an electrical connection and charges the rechargeable energy storage member 26 of the mobile target object 18.

[0011] FIG. 1 illustrates exemplary embodiments of an autonomously-operable, land mobile charging system 2 and a rechargeable electrically-powered land-operable, mobile target object 18, respectively. As shown in FIG. 1, mobile charging system 2 comprises an autonomously-operable mobile charging vehicle 4, an energy source 8, an electric charge transferring member 10, a processor 12, a communicator 14, and an antenna 16. Energy source 8 comprises one or more of an energy storage member 19, a solar panel 20, or an electric power generator 22, or a combination including one or more of the foregoing.

Energy storage member 19 may be recharged by solar panel 20, electric power generator 22 or an external source 23 (e.g., a power station), or a combination including one or more of the foregoing. Energy storage member 19 and electric generator 22 may supply an electric charge for purposes of either or both of powering operating components (e.g., autopilot system 6, motive drive 7, processor 12, communicator 14, etc.) of mobile charging vehicle 4 or supplying an electric charge to mobile target object 18. See FIG. 2. A power converter (not shown) may be used to convert alternating current to direct current for storage in energy storage member 19.

[0012] As shown in FIG. 1, mobile target object 18 comprises a rechargeable energy storage member 26, a processor 28, a communicator 30, an antenna 32, and a receiving member 24. Energy storage members 19 and 26 may comprise a capacitor or one or more of various types of batteries, including, for example, nickel-cadmium, nickel-hydrogen, lithium- ion, lithium-polymer, fuel cell, chemical cell, or solar cell, or a combination including one or more of the foregoing. In one embodiment, electric charge transferring member 10 and receiving member 24 comprise rear and front bumpers, respectively, which optionally may be extendable. Electric charge transferring member 10 and receiving member 24 each comprise corresponding positive and negative terminals 25 and 27, respectively, which may form an electrical circuit when abutting one another. Other components or surface parts (e.g., a hood, a door, a side panel, an underbody panel, etc., or component parts thereof) of either or both mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18, may be configured to allow for the establishment of an electrical connection via, for example, a positive and negative terminal, an electrical connection for a positive side of a circuit and a ground, or a coupling (e.g., magnetically) of a positive electrode between the mobile changing system and the target object. If mobile target object 18 is configured to receive a charge while leading mobile charging vehicle 4, then receiving member 24 could comprise a rear bumper or component part thereof, and transferring member 10 could comprise a front bumper or component part thereof. Alternatively, an electric charge may be transferred wirelessly using electric charge transferring and receiving members configure d to allow for any one of several methods, including, for example, electromagnetic induction and magnetic resonances. See, generally, U.S. Pat. Appl. Pub. No. 2017/0179728; and Sibakoti, M. J. et al, "Wireless Power

Transmission Using Magnetic Resonance," [Online Document], December 2011, last visited on 10/13/17, http://www.cornellcollege.edu/physics-and-engineering/pdfs/p hy-312/mandip- sibakoti.pdf. The aforementioned references are hereby incorporated by reference. In the event of an otherwise irreconcilable conflict, however, the present specification shall control.

[0013] FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative exemplary embodiment of electric charge transferring member 10 and receiving member 24 of FIG. 1. Electric charge transferring and receiving members 10 and 24, respectively, may be configured to form male and female connectors, 34 and 36, respectively. Optionally, either one or both member connectors 34 and 36 may telescope towards the other to achieve a connection, and may contain a locking mechanism, such as a combination of a recess and complementary protruding member or other locking means, to help maintain connection while underway. Member connectors 34 and 36, each having corresponding positive and negative terminals, may be configured to form a physical electrical connection for transfer of an electric charge from mobile charging vehicle 4 to target object (mobile or stationary) 18. In this embodiment, female connector 34 has an outer surface 38 and an inner surface 40 that defines an opening. Inner surface 40 comprises positive and negative terminals 42 and 44. Male connector 34 may be sized and shaped to complement the size and shape of female connector 36 such that upon physical contact an electrical connection is formed between corresponding positive and negative terminals 48 and 46. Male and female connectors, 34 and 36, respectively, may further comprise corresponding communications terminals 50 and 52, which when connected may also allow for real-time exchange of operating information between processors 12 and 28, to maintain engagement by matching various operating parameters (e.g., direction, speed, braking, steering, etc.). [0014] FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate schematic diagrams of exemplary embodiments of the exchange of communications between processors 12, 28 (via communicators 14 and 30) and central network processor and communicator 56 for locating, positioning and allowing for engagement between a mobile target object 18 and a mobile charging system 2. In one embodiment, communicators 14 and 30 may be configured to exchange (i.e., transmit and receive via antennas 16 and 32) operating information directly with one another if within an appropriate transmitting and receiving range, or through centralized network processor and communicator 56, or both, to coordinate a contact point for engagement via radio waves using an appropriate band in accordance with governing laws in a particular country, such as, for example, an ultrahigh frequency (UHF) band of between about 850 MHz to about 899 MHz, which in the United States of America is a range that falls in between ranges designated for cell phones and cordless phones, or any other appropriate band designated by law.

[0015] As shown in FIG. 4A, processors 12 and 28 transmit (continuously or periodically) to central network processor and communicator 56 their individual operating information (e.g., availability, absolute/relative location, speed, direction, route, destination, power quantity, remaining range of travel, remaining operating time, etc.). To allow for engagement between mobile charging system 2 and mobile target object 18, central network processor and communicator 56 may either calculate or use data from global positioning systems for trilateration to determine global positioning of mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18, and using the appropriate operating information of mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18, may calculate an approximate contact point 58 and time at which mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 may reach each other for engagement. In this embodiment, central network processor and communicator 56 may cause processor 28 to adjust one or more of the operating parameters (e.g., speed, route, direction, etc.) of mobile charging vehicle 4 to effectuate the meeting of mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 at or near the contact point within the approximated time. Upon reaching contact point 58 and within an appropriate position 60 relative to one another, mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 may directly exchange operating information to allow for real-time communications to enable engagement autonomously via autopilot while both mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 are underway.

[0016] FIG. 4B schematically illustrates direct communications between mobile charging system 2 and mobile target object 18. Mobile charging system 2 and mobile target object 18, through their respective processors 12 and 28, may directly exchange their positioning information (using, for example, global positioning systems, sonar, roadmap software, beacons or other similar positioning and locating technology) and operating information (e.g., absolute/relative location, speed, direction, route, destination, battery charge level, remaining range of travel, residual quantity of battery, etc.), and calculate an approximate contact point 58 and time at which both mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 may reach an appropriate energy transfer range relative to one another for engagement.

[0017] In both exemplary embodiments shown in FIGS. 4 A and 4B, upon engagement within an energy transferring range, energy source 8 transfers an electric charge to energy storage member 26 of mobile target object 18 via the establishment of an electrical connection between electric charge transferring member 10 and electric charge receiving member 24. See FIG. 1. Processors 12 or 28 may control operating parameters (e.g., speed, route, steering, etc.) of mobile charging vehicle 4, and mobile target object 18, or both, to maintain an appropriate position with respect to one another while recharging energy storage member 26. Processors 12 or 28 may institute charging of energy storage member 26 by initiating a physical or wireless electrical connection between electric charge transferring member 10 and electric charge receiving member 24. When charging is complete, or should an condition arise requiring that such charging be discontinued, mobile charging system 2 discontinues power transmission, and mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 may disengage and separate autonomously. At which time, mobile target object 18 may return to manual operation.

[0018] FIGS. 5 A, 5B and 5C are flowcharts illustrating various methods of operating an autonomously-operable, mobile charging system for charging a parked, mobile, or stationary target object, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 5A is a flowchart showing an exemplary embodiment of mobile charging system 2 in a first mode. In this mode, mobile charging system 2 traverses a route (predetermined or random) for engagement by a rechargeable mobile target object 18. Upon approach or detection, and within an appropriate distance 60 relative to one another for engagement, the operator of mobile target object 18 may request a charge from mobile charging system 2 via communications between processors 12 and 28, and turn on an autopilot (not shown) to initiate engagement by maneuvering and maintaining vehicle 18 within energy transferring range (i.e., a position sufficiently close to mobile charging vehicle 4 for recharge via electrical connection physically or wirelessly), while both mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 are underway. Upon completion of recharging process, mobile charging vehicle 4 discontinues power transmission, and mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 may disengage and separate autonomously. At which time, mobile target object 18 may return to manual operation.

[0019] FIG. 5B is a flowchart showing an exemplary embodiment of mobile charging system 2 in a second mode. In this mode, one or more mobile charging systems 2 distributed over a geographical area (land or water depending on land or water applications) traverse a route (random or predetermined) for engagement by a mobile target object 18 in route to a destination previously input into processor 12 by the operator of vehicle 4. Centralized network processor and communicator 56 continuously or periodically monitors the operating information of mobile charging system 2 via processor 12 and the operating information (e.g., speed, power quantity, remaining range of travel, etc.) of mobile target object 18 via processor 28. Centralized network processor and communicator 56 coordinates an

approximate contact point between mobile target object 18 and an available mobile charging system 2 to recharge mobile target object 18. Centralized network processor and

communicator 56 may select a mobile charging system 2 that will be available and nearest mobile target object 18 if mobile target object 18 is either nearing a predetermined power quantity or approaching an area where a mobile charging system 2 may not be available or present at a point in which mobile target object 18 is predicted to reach the predetermined power quantity, while underway. In some instances, this may be achieved by adjusting one or more operating parameters (e.g., speed, route, braking, etc.) of mobile charging vehicle 4. Upon mobile charging system 2 and mobile target object 18 reaching the contact point and a predetermined position 60 relative to one another, rechargeable electric land or sea vehicle 18 may be switched (either manually by the operator, remotely or automatically by processor 12, 28 or central network processor and communicator 56) from manual to autopilot to allow for autonomous engagement with mobile charging system 2. An electric charge of mobile target object 18 may then occur while both mobile charging vehicle 4 and mobile target object 18 are underway.

[0020] FIG. 5C is a flowchart showing an exemplary embodiment of mobile charging system 2 in a third mode. In this mode, upon request by an operator (via, for example, a smart phone application, an online request or telephone request) or on a prescheduled basis, centralized network processor and communicator 56 locates a target object 18 (parked, mobile, or stationary target object) via, for example, one or more of global positioning systems, sonar, beacons, roadmap software, or other similar positioning and locating technology, and sends a nearby and available mobile charging system 2 to engage and charge target object 18 via a physical or wireless electrical connection. Alternatively, mobile charging system 2, upon receiving a request or by schedule, locates and target object 18.

[0021] It should be recognized that while an autonomously-operated mobile charging vehicle is described herein, the charging vehicle optionally may be operated manually or remotely in all modes described herein.