Most electric vehicles come with some method to get power from your house. That way, you can simply plug your vehicle in when you arrive home and unplug when you leave. Having to plug and unplug your vehicle from the local power supply is, at worst, a minor inconvenience. But Apple has still envisioned a solution to do away with it: robots.
In a patent simply titled “Charging system,” which was granted to Apple and published on Tuesday, the Cupertino tech giant details a system that would largely automate the at-home process of charging electric vehicles.
Essentially, the patent describes a floor-based device that can move around when triggered. Once it does, it could automatically move into position next to a vehicle and apply power to the car. Essentially, a robot.
Other portions of the patent theorize that the device could have an actual wired power connection or would charge a vehicle using coil-based induction.
It would also move around on its own using a motor and wheels and relying on sensors — such as cameras and light detectors — to avoid bumping into objects. Amusingly, the system could also use those obstacle-avoiding sensors to find the quickest way to a vehicle and prevent wrapping its cable around itself.
Of course, Apple isn’t likely to just invent a robot for any third-party electric vehicle out there. This is almost undoubtedly a system meant for the so-called Apple Car.
Rumors of a first-party Apple self-driving car, under the codename Project Titan, stretch back for years. It’s even been dubbed one of Silicon Valley’s worst-kept secrets. And since then, Apple executives have even confirmed the existence of some vehicle-based development.
Over the years, Apple’s vehicle team has hit a series of roadblocks and internal restructurings. At one point, it was thought to have shifted away from the development of an actual self-driving car to focus on the underlying autonomous systems that would make it work.
And while Apple’s patents aren’t always good indicators of the company’s future plans, it seems like one of the Apple Car’s accessories could be a robot that helps keep it charged.