Patent

Tesla Working On Battery Swap Tech That Fits On The Back Of A Truck

Either a roadside assistance godsend or an easy “Build Your Own Supercharging Station” kit.

Back in 2013, Tesla did what it does best: it filed a patent for a device that, if used to its greatest potential, could level the playing field between electric cars and their internal combustion engine-powered counterparts. That device was intended to swap out a replaceable battery pack within seconds and was designed in such a way that a Tesla could park over it and have its battery swapped out by a robot. In theory, this would render charge times irrelevant.

As Electrek reports, Tesla is giving it another crack with a new patent. Tesla has used the few years between this patent and its previous version to make some design amendments. In this case, the battery-swapping robot comes in the form of a compact rig that can be easily mobilized, perhaps so that it could be quickly set up in rural areas (or in dense inner cities where Supercharger stations are more sparse) and extend the reach of Tesla’s charging network. The system’s flexibility also allows it to be installed inside of a building, adding the possibility of parking garage swaps. Unlike the previous version, which took 90 seconds to complete a swap autonomously, this swaps in under 15 minutes and can be completed by an operator.

Though the patent specifies that it works for the Model S and Model X’s simple batteries, the fact that it takes more time means that there’s a chance it could work on the Model 3’s batteries, which require a more complex process to disconnect. Though we’re sure owners would love a battery swap program as it would ensure that charge times are cut drastically and because owners would get fresh batteries frequently—eliminating the natural loss in energy that occurs over time—it wouldn't make for a practical application of the batteries even with the Gigafactory working at full output. Instead, this system would be most practical for commercial applications, such as for a Tesla semi truck or an army of autonomous Tesla Ubers. Yes, the future is here.

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