Apple may adopt large-scale MagSafe technology for Apple Car charging

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited May 10
The Apple Car could have its own MagSafe-style charger alignment system, with contacts on a charging station automatically aligning perfectly with counterparts located on the electric car.

Current electric vehicles need drivers to plug in the charging cables manually
Current electric vehicles need drivers to plug in the charging cables manually


The often-rumored Apple Car has taken on many forms in speculation, but one repeated factor that crops up is its use of electricity to drive the vehicle. While it could take the form of a performance vehicle or a van, the suggestion it will be an electric vehicle has been quite prevalent.

If Apple were to create an electric car and offer it to the public in some form, it does have to counter the problem of recharging the vehicle. Unlike petrol and diesel vehicles that hold fuel and are left alone at night, electric vehicle users are used to the idea of recharging the car overnight, as the hours without use is a perfect opportunity for such activity.

It's not that the car battery will run down overnight, so ultimately needing to find a charging point in the day is no different to having to find a petrol station. However, charging is inevitably slower than filling up at a pump, and the overnight hours are ideal -- if users remember to plug in.

In a revised patent newly granted and called "Charging station with passive alignment mechanism," Apple suggests such an engineering system that could allow for drivers to park up and for the vehicle to start charging immediately.

The system largely involves a charging station with a charging plug designed to slot into a receiving socket on the vehicle itself. The plug is attached to sliding rods that can move the position of the plug around vertically and horizontally, to allow for imperfect parking attempts by the driver and for variances in the height of the vehicle.

While the height of the socket on the vehicle is likely to be the same across models and even manufacturers, there are still some potential ways for the height to vary. Two examples would be additional weight put into the vehicle as load, and the pressure of the tires.

The charging plug could shift sideways and vertically to match the car's socket.
The charging plug could shift sideways and vertically to match the car's socket.


In operation, the vehicle would have a cover for its charging socket that opens by moving upward, as it approaches a charging station. The driver, or self-driving vehicle system, has to attempt to position the vehicle as close to its intended end point as possible, to maximize the chance of a suitable connection with the charging station.

The parking job wouldn't have to be perfect, just within a range that allows the charging plug to make a connection. The rest of the patent explains the plug can refine its position to where it is needed, and can do so relatively passively.

The charging point's movement by the sliding rods allow the plug to be pushed back by the vehicle, such as if the driver has moved the vehicle closer to the charging station, to minimize damage from the plug impacting the vehicle.

The flap on the Apple Car could open and divert the charging plug into the socket.
The flap on the Apple Car could open and divert the charging plug into the socket.


For added protection of the potentially fragile charging plug, a plate is located above the component, to handle any heavy impacts. It will also help to guide the plug in a downward slide to meet the socket by pressing against the vehicle's flap, which is also angled to encourage movement towards the socket itself.

To further increase the chances of a suitable connection, the area surrounding the socket could also act as a funnel, diverting the plug into the receptacle. Apple also suggests the use of a magnet to secure the coupling.

Lastly, the charging plug itself will be able to pivot vertically and horizontally, altering the angle to ensure a perfect seating, once maneuvered into the right place.

The plug could move around for a snug fit in the charging point.
The plug could move around for a snug fit in the charging point.


The patent lists its inventors as Matthew M. Torok, Foster D. Collins, and William M. Price.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, but while the existence of a patent filing indicates areas of interest for Apple's research and development efforts, there's no guarantee that Apple will use the ideas in a future product or service.

Recharging an electric car has cropped up a few times in Apple's patents, especially in ways that do not require much in the way of driver assistance, aside from parking a car properly.

In July 2019, the "Wireless Charging Alignment System," Apple suggests how a self-driving system could park the car in a position ideal for wireless charging, using a transmitter embedded in the parking space.

The same year, a "Charging System" was proposed that consisted of a small robotic device that could move along a floor under a vehicle, one that would raise a charging element close to a receiver on the car to perform wireless charging.

Such systems do not have to be tied to a stationary vehicle. In 2018, Apple thought about a "Peloton" of self-driving vehicles that are close enough together in a convoy that they can connect together. The peloton would reduce drag to save fuel, and could allow for vehicles to share energy reserves with each other, minimizing the need to stop and refuel.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    Brilliant.  No more absent-mindedly driving off, towing the charging station along behind!
    zroger73williamhBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 33
    I've mourned the loss of the brilliant MagSafe charger on my MacBooks since Apple ditched it.
    williamhwatto_cobralkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 33
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,650member
    Seems awfully complicated.  It's not hard to get in the habit of plugging in. I've been driving an Audi PHEV for over 4 years and can probably count on one hand the number of times I've forgotten to plug in. 
    darkvader
  • Reply 4 of 33
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,233member
    I know this is just an illustration, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of the mechanism riding on rails like that. The point of connection is far away from the rail. If the connector is guided into the port, that puts a lot of leverage on the slide riding on the rails, and as a result, the slide kinks and jams on the rails. This is a well known phenomenon, mechanically. The leverage from that far way connector can cause problems.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    There are some inefficiencies involved with this, but I like the idea of no plug--an inductive car charging system:
    https://www.pluglesspower.com
  • Reply 6 of 33

    MacPro said:
    Brilliant.  No more absent-mindedly driving off, towing the charging station along behind!
    Hah! Fortunately, my A3 e-Tron won't let me drive off if it is plugged in. (I know, because I've forgotten to unplug it a couple times when I first got it!) I imagine all PHEV and BEV have this feature.
    NotoriousDEVwatto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 7 of 33
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 147member
    I'm sure this would be helpful at home, but not at constrained public chargers. I've seen far too many incidents of people removing chargers from vehicles, especially Teslas at non-supercharging locations, when the vehicle is done charging or has reached a max time limit. Teslas are more vulnerable as they require an adapter to work at public charging stations. Unless this is some kind of high-powered magnet that cannot be removed by normal strength, it's not a great idea.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    There are some inefficiencies involved with this, but I like the idea of no plug--an inductive car charging system:
    https://www.pluglesspower.com
    Direct contact with a plug is far, far more efficient than inductive charging. Non-contact charging could be up to 47% less efficient than a traditional plug-in system.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?
    NotoriousDEVwatto_cobradarkvaderBeats
  • Reply 10 of 33
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?
    It’s nothing until it’s a product.
    Beats
  • Reply 11 of 33
    GG1GG1 Posts: 476member
    chadbag said:
    Seems awfully complicated.  It's not hard to get in the habit of plugging in. I've been driving an Audi PHEV for over 4 years and can probably count on one hand the number of times I've forgotten to plug in. 
    I like Tesla's "charging snake" concept. See animated GIF in the link below.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,395member
    Isn’t a better solution just a charging plate on the floor of the garage you just drive over and park above while charging? This seems very complicated.
    Or even better yet, a charging system that takes five minutes to “fill ‘Er up!”
    edited October 2020 Beats
  • Reply 13 of 33
    There are some inefficiencies involved with this, but I like the idea of no plug--an inductive car charging system:
    https://www.pluglesspower.com
    Direct contact with a plug is far, far more efficient than inductive charging. Non-contact charging could be up to 47% less efficient than a traditional plug-in system.
    Nissan says their wireless charger is 80-90% efficient.

    https://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/wcs.html

    entropys said:
    Isn’t a better solution just a charging plate on the floor of the garage you just drive over and park above while charging? This seems very complicated.
    Or even better yet, a charging system that takes five minutes to “fill ‘Er up!”
    There have been aftermarket wireless EV chargers for years. Here's one:

    https://www.pluglesspower.com/learn-about-plugless/
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 33
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 858member
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?
    I've always said it would be really cool if someone who has a lot of time and 3D software rendering knowledge, build/render the car precisely based on the patents.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 33
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,908member
    JinTech said:
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?
    I've always said it would be really cool if someone who has a lot of time and 3D software rendering knowledge, build/render the car precisely based on the patents.

    Teslas are really ugly and old school looking. I hope Apple makes something that looks revolutionary.

    There's an Asian guy on YouTube who makes Apple concepts if you can find him. He's the best because he thinks innovatively.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?

    Beat me to it. The Legend lives. Relative to electronics, car assembly is orders of magnitude more complex. I just don’t see Apple getting in on their own. Much more likely to partner with legacy car makers, licensing Apple-developed systems. 

    watto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 17 of 33
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,060member
    NotoriousDEV said:

    Beat me to it. The Legend lives. Relative to electronics, car assembly is orders of magnitude more complex. I just don’t see Apple getting in on their own. Much more likely to partner with legacy car makers, licensing Apple-developed systems. 

    "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in."
    watto_cobralkrupp
  • Reply 18 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,989member
    Is Apple going to ever build this mythical car?
    You mean like the mythical Apple HDTV Kuo predicted for years?

    It’s just a patent, not even a rumor.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,989member
    NotoriousDEV said:

    Beat me to it. The Legend lives. Relative to electronics, car assembly is orders of magnitude more complex. I just don’t see Apple getting in on their own. Much more likely to partner with legacy car makers, licensing Apple-developed systems. 

    "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.”
    👍
  • Reply 20 of 33
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 598member
    NotoriousDEV said:

    Beat me to it. The Legend lives. Relative to electronics, car assembly is orders of magnitude more complex. I just don’t see Apple getting in on their own. Much more likely to partner with legacy car makers, licensing Apple-developed systems. 

    "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in."
    There are meaningful differences between the industries. Most importantly, a phone, tablet, or desktop computer generally doesn't pose a risk to life when something goes wrong. The assembly methods and techniques also don't pose nearly as much of a risk to the workers. It's extremely easy to get grievously injured on a car production line.

    The problems are not insurmountable, but building a safety culture is a lot harder than designing their own processors. It takes time and a lot of blood to get right.
    darkvader
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