This could cure those range anxiety worries.
Toyota may have pioneered the Prius years ago, but when you think of a hybrid nowadays, it's not necessarily the Japanese eco-warrior that instantly springs to mind anymore. Hydrogen is where Toyota's priorities lie these days, but however it is produced, electric vehicles are certain to become a core part of the automaker's future. Earlier this year, we learned that the Japanese giant was working on an electric truck, but that's not very special these days anymore. What is special is the innovation that CarBuzz has just discovered. According to patent documents, Toyota is working on a way to wirelessly recharge electric vehicles, and here's the kicker: the invention aims to do this while the cars are still moving.
The patent documents reveal various methods of doing this. In the first, one car (let's call it an electric Toyota Tundra from the future) could be driving along the highway. The driver realizes that the truck is almost out of juice, so he or she places an "energy transfer request" over a wireless connection to a second vehicle, say a Toyota Mirai or the production version of the Lexus LF-Z concept.
Once the request is accepted, "a second wireless connection from an energy interface on the second [vehicle] to an energy interface on the first [vehicle]" can be established. The requested amount of energy can then be transferred. In other scenarios, the vehicles automatically place requests for energy transfers with each other, potentially through the use of a "non-transitory computer-readable medium."
The patent documents reveal that the systems would read traffic flow and determine the amount of time it would take for the energy transfer to be completed before making a connection, thus preventing early disconnections. They also suggest that these vehicles would be able to match speed with each other automatically and would be able to find a route that would provide "a maximum efficiency of the transferring of the amount of energy."
Essentially, these vehicles would be able to communicate with each other to make fast-charging on the go as quick and effortless as possible, but as for how the wireless connection could actually transfer energy, we can only assume that Toyota envisions a more powerful version of today's wireless vehicle chargers. What impact these would have on range and efficiency is yet to be determined, but if anyone can figure this idea out and see it through, Toyota surely can.