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Drones can charge vehicles, at least according to Amazon. The company’s newest patent describes a method to deliver energy using an unscrewed autonomous vehicle (UAV). The patent is planned for use in vehicles drawing their energy from combusting hydrocarbons, drawing electric current and so forth.

The system in the patent comprises three parts: a vehicle, a UAV, and a server. But could also include multiple vehicles, UAVs, and servers. Beyond electric vehicles, the patent notes that the vehicle could include various forms of transportation. The patent also mentions that the vehicle could be controlled by an operator as well as semi-autonomous or fully autonomous operation. In addition, according to, the vehicle could include an energy source and a power-management module to monitor the amount of energy available from the energy source. As a result, it could determine whether there is a need for the vehicle to receive energy. The energy source may comprise one or more devices that provide energy so that vehicle processes may be performed utilizing electric, chemical, or mechanical devices,  rechargeable batteries for example.

The UAV is described could be configured to manage route selections, navigation, piloting, etc. Amazon’s patent mentions how the UAV could have limited altitude and range compared to human-crewed aircraft. In the patent, the UAV could use various authentication processes for protection and control to prevent or reduce energy theft. For example, the UAV could be protected from connecting with vehicles controlled by malicious users. Authentication processes also could be used to confirm whether energy was transferred or not. In addition, it will be possible to confirm the amount of energy that was transferred between the UAV and the vehicle. The UAV location data may be stored in a server to help determine which UAV should be instructed to transfer energy to the vehicle.

The patent itself does not mean that Amazon has a concrete plan to immediately start a new drone car-charging business. At the moment, the electric/autonomous vehicles market is growing at a fast pace. Better infrastructure will be needed to charge these future vehicles. However, Amazon has already started a new delivery service using drones to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.