Tech giant Apple is considering creating a system in which electric vehicles could travel in convoy to save energy, shuffling back and forth in much the same way as a cycling peloton does, and also link up to share energy.
The autonomous system, which is aimed at improving the efficiency of long-range vehicles – such as electric trucks – would see vehicles in the platoon that are low in energy move to the back of the pack, and vehicles with more energy in reserve move towards the front.
The idea, which has been filed with the US Patents Office, describes the method which takes its inspiration from a group of cyclists who move back and forth in the pack to conserve energy of individual riders, and which gives the patent its namesake, “Peloton“.
It would “reduce driving range differences among the vehicles”, Apple notes, adding that the system “mitigates the amounts of energy which is expended by internal power sources of at least some of the vehicles.”
Truck drivers often drive long highways in convoy, switching positions to save fuel, but this new idea would see it done programmatically for the most efficient outcome.
And while the system could be applied to vehicles running on fossil fuels, the patent also discusses sharing energy between electric vehicles, by linking them together via a “power connector arm”, further balancing differences in driving range.
The effect would be like one long caterpillar-like road train, that shares the available power sources among the members of the pack for the good of all.
The intriguing idea certainly has its merits, and although at first it may seem a step outside the box for the company best known for its game-changing smartphones, it is not that far fetched.
There has been much noise in the past about Apple making a foray into electric and autonomous vehicles.
Bloomberg has previously reported in 2015 that the tech giant was quietly plotting away at making an electric car with a view to getting them on the market by 2020.
While the EV project, named “Titan” was pulled back in 2016, Apple recently rehired former VP of Mac Hardware Engineering Doug Field, who had gone to work at Tesla, suggesting they may be at it again.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.