Are self-driving EV fleets imminent?

We’ve heard it a million times - fully autonomous all-electric cars are the way of the future. However, while there’s certainly no shortage of speculation in this space, the way we get to that future remains to be seen. Now, it looks like Apple might have a novel new method to enhance battery efficiency, a critical component to widespread EV adoption.

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2021 Apple iCar
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This latest EV tech innovation appears to come from the world of cycling, whereby one racer will draft behind another, providing less wind resistance for the cyclist in the rear to help them save energy. Interestingly, it’s an idea that could be applied to cars.

That’s the latest news from our friends at Apple Insider, who managed to uncover a new Apple patent published earlier this week titled “Peloton.”

For those of you who may be unaware, a peloton is a group of cyclists that cluster together to help reduce aerodynamic drag.

Properly used with autonomous EVs, the peloton concept could help reduce energy consumption and drive down overall running costs.

In the patent, Apple outlines a system whereby interconnected cars would self-organize such that vehicles with more range would position towards the front, enabling lower-range vehicles to take a spot in the rear and conserve energy.

What’s more, the patent outlines a system that would allow cars to “share” energy. Essentially, the cars would physically connect to one another through a retractable plug, which would send electricity from the battery pack of one vehicle to the pack of another vehicle.

Think of it as a ground-bound version of an Air Force-style mid-air refuel.

This would be particularly useful in a line of EVs utilizing the above-outlined peloton configuration.

2021 Apple iCar Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Back in 2016, it was revealed that Apple was considering the development of its own autonomous EV. However, the latest rumors point towards a shift to autonomous vehicle technology, rather than a full-blown proprietary vehicle.

This latest patent could be a part of that shift, and herald a renewed interest in passenger vehicles from the tech giant.

Here’s what we’re imagining - a fleet of self-driving vehicles out on the highways, each connected through the energy share system outlined above. Ahead of the convoy is a larger semi-truck EV to create a low-pressure area and provide a slipstream for the cars behind, while also supplying a generous amount of electricity from its large onboard battery packs. As cars break away at specific exits and new cars join in, the convoy self-organizes and adjusts, all while the passengers sit back and relax.

Maybe. What comes to mind for you?

Further Reading

2021 Apple iCar Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full speculative review on the 2021 Apple iCar.

CES 2018 Weirdness: Nissan's Brain-to-Car Communication
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Read more autonomous cars news.

Source: Apple Insider

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