Rivian invents an automatic charging connector for Amazon electric vans

In its commitment to energy efficiency and the preservation of air quality in cities, Amazon commissioned Rivian to manufacture 100,000 electric vans. A fleet that the electronic commerce giant will distribute throughout the world and that will require large centralized car parks for recharging, an operation that must be integrated into the distribution logistics of the company. The automated charging connector that Rivian has patented tries to reduce the time and labor required to recharge manually.

Amazon EDV electric vans (Electric Delivery Van) They will be able to meet the long work shifts required by their service thanks to their more than 240 kilometers of autonomy. Once the work is finished, they must go to a centralized recharging park to recover their energy. This operation, in addition to time, need a lot of manual labor to be in charge of connecting each van, supervising the recharge so that it is carried out correctly and disconnecting them to recharge the next one.

Nevertheless, if this operation is automated, the recharging process could be much simpler and more efficient, as well as requiring less manual labor. That is why Rivian has recently introduced a patent in which he shows the design of a automated connector employing electromagnets to attract the plug hanging from the ceiling to the recharging port and a system based on a electric screw that adjusts and secures the connection.

Automatic charging patent for electric vans rivian amazon-interior1
Rivian’s self-recharging system employs a charging cable that hangs from the ceiling and allows a little play to fall within a three-inch area around the electric van’s charging port.

“It can be beneficial to have a fleet of electric delivery vans that charge overnight to deploy during the day to make deliveries,” explains the patent application that Rivian has titled as “Automated system and connection method“.

The system that Rivian has imagined employs a charging cord that hangs from the ceiling of the fixture and allows a little play for the connector to fall within a 3-inch (7.6-centimeter) area around the van’s charging port. The release gate automatically opens to expose the connector.

Both the vehicle charging port and the connector hanging from the ceiling have four electromagnets that are activated with opposite polarities, correctly placing one on top of the other. Once they physically contact each of the contacts, the conical receivers located in the charging port align with a few electrical screws which are inserted into threaded holes. Once in place, the screws automatically tighten to secure the plug securely in the charging port.

Automatic charging patent for electric vans rivian amazon-interior2
Both the vehicle’s charging port and the connector hanging from the ceiling have four electromagnets that can reverse their polarity.

Once connected, the CCS combined charging system allows the van to be charged with single-phase or three-phase alternating current or by direct current, depending on each hub of recharge.

When charging is complete, the system reverse the rotation of the screws pushing the plug out of the receiver. The electromagnets are activated again, this time with the same polarity instead pushing the charging cable away from the vehicle so it hangs down for the next charge. The vehicle automatically closes the loading port hatch and is removed by a driver to make way for the next loading shift. This is the only manual operation in the process, since everything else is done without human intervention.

The patent application concludes with this statement: “Leaving it to humans to plug in an electric vehicle after it has been parked is an inherently unreliable process,” Rivian’s patent application states. “For business operations, an unloaded vehicle can equate to lost revenue.”

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