What lies ahead
Charging our electronic devices has changed the way we live and work. No longer are we tethered to a wall outlet or bound by the length of our power cords. We no longer need to buy new batteries that eventually end up in landfills.
We can now simply place our devices on a charging pad or dock, and they will charge wirelessly.
The future of recharging is autonomous. Read on to discover what autonomous recharging is, and, how it is evolving.
What is autonomous charging?
Autonomous charging is a process whereby electronic devices are charged without the need for human intervention. Ideally, the device would recognize when it is running low on power and automatically start charging. Sometimes dubbed instant charging or self-charging, it is becoming increasingly commonplace as our devices become increasingly intelligent.
Why do we need autonomous recharging?
Currently, the applications for autonomous recharging are mostly found in industrial and commercial settings. For example, warehouse workers can use autonomous recharging to keep forklifts and other machinery running without human intervention. This is important in factories and warehouses where robots and machines are often used to do the heavy lifting. Robots don't need to take breaks and can work around the clock if adequately charged.
The military is also interested in autonomous recharging for its vehicles and equipment. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for example, need to be able to recharge themselves in the field so that they can stay in the air for extended periods of time. In the future, we can expect autonomous recharging to become more commonplace in our homes and offices. With the rise of electric cars, it will become increasingly important to be able to charge our vehicles without having to plug them in manually.
How does autonomous recharging work?
Autonomous recharging typically relies on two components: a power source and a receiving device. The receiving device part is often built into the device itself, while the power source is usually a separate unit. For our electric car example, Siemens Autonomous Charging System uses an automatic proximity sensor to detect when a vehicle is close enough to start the charging process. Once the car is aligned correctly, the charger will connect to the vehicle and begin charging automatically.
This type of autonomous charging uses AI to interact with the approaching vehicle and a speed cable management system to ensure a safe and efficient connection. The result is a completely automated and seamless charging experience. This will be essential in the future when cars may operate without drivers.
But what if we could charge vehicles on the move? Here's where inductive charging comes in. Inductive charging uses electromagnetic induction to transfer energy between two coils. One coil is usually placed on the ground (or road), while the other is built into the vehicle. When the vehicle passes over the coil, it will automatically start charging. This type of autonomous charging is already being used in some electric buses, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace in cars as well.
The goal is to eventually deploy their technology on a large scale so drivers can charge electric vehicles while driving.
Electreon Wireless, an Israeli startup, is working on a similar technology called Roadlane Wireless. Their system uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two coils, one placed under the road and the other built into the vehicle. The coils can also be placed at the bus station or waiting areas. The technology works even with snow or ice on the road. The goal is to eventually deploy their technology on a large scale so drivers can charge electric vehicles while driving. It would eliminate unsightly charging stations and make electric vehicles more practical for long-distance travel. It would also reduce the need for big battery packs, making electric vehicles lighter and more efficient.
In the case of robots in a factory setting, the power source is often a charging dock that the robot returns to when it needs to recharge. The dock uses inductive charging to transfer energy wirelessly to the robot. This type of charging is already common in smartphones and other small devices. It can now be used for small robots, drones, and other industry-specific applications. Wibotic is one company specializing in this type of charging for industrial and commercial applications. Their charging port uses a mix of electrical induction and magnetic resonance with antennas that are tuned to work together. The result is a strong and efficient coupling between the transmitter (charging dock) and the receiver (robot).
Quantum batteries and autonomous charging
The power source is where most of the work is being done to make autonomous recharging a reality. There are a few different approaches to this, but one of the most promising is using quantum batteries. If you've heard of quantum computing, you can think of quantum batteries as a similar technology applied to energy storage.
A quantum battery is a type of rechargeable battery that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to store and release energy. This makes them much more efficient than traditional batteries and allows high-speed charging. In some cases, it may even be possible to charge a car in just 90 seconds. This study was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, the team behind this micromaser breakthrough.
Qubits, the basic units of quantum information, can be in one of two states or a superposition of both simultaneously. This makes them incredibly versatile and well-suited for storing large amounts of data.
Qubits, the basic units of quantum information, can be in one of two states or a superposition of both simultaneously. This makes them incredibly versatile and well-suited for storing large amounts of data. In a quantum battery, these qubits are used to store energy. The battery uses an electromagnetic field to control the qubits and determine how much energy is necessary for a full charge. When it's time to release the power, the battery uses a similar process to discharge the qubits and convert them back into electrical energy.
The bigger the quantum battery, the faster it can charge and store more energy. This is due to quantum speedup, which is a phenomenon that occurs when molecules become more entangled. In other words, the more qubits there are in a battery, the faster they can share information and the more energy they can store. While this technology is still in its early stages, it has the potential to revolutionize autonomous charging.
Autonomous recharging will be essential for autonomous machines to become a reality. Many challenges need to be overcome, but technology is progressing quickly. Quantum batteries are one of the most promising technologies for powering autonomous vehicles, and they continue to get better with each new generation. With continued research and development, autonomous recharging will eventually become a commonplace technology.