Patent published on August 31, 2023

New Patent Might Make Electric Road Trips Cheaper and More Private

When you're plugging in your electric or hybrid vehicle, you've probably seldom spared a thought for how much it might cost to zoom along public highways or glide through side streets. But that may change soon, if a recently submitted patent, labeled as US20230274584A1, makes its way to fruition.

In a world where electric vehicles are increasingly on the rise, figuring out the most equitable way to charge these zero-emission pioneers for their road usage is causing a headache for authorities. Currently, the method in use often tends to penalize those who use their cars less, laying flat fees regardless of actual use. It's unfair for the owners of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) who travel less than average annually. Moreover, it does little to ensure that fees are equitably distributed among states or jurisdictions where the vehicle miles are actually covered.

Beyond such equity issues, the problem is compounded by the inconsistency in the approach of mileage collection across jurisdictions and the lack of standardization in roadway classifications. For example, an Oregon driver would face uncertainty over which routes might be "taxable" or "non-taxable". Similar discrepancies are seen across various private mapping software as well, creating a tangle of doubt and confusion which modern technology should have by now resolved.

This new patent is devised to iron out these concerns. Dubbed as "System of Privacy Oriented Automated Electric Vehicle Miles Traveled Usage Fee Assessment and Settlement Using Utility Smart Grid Communication Network", this comprehensive system determines charges based on the actual usage on public roads for EVs. What's more, it will also make sure the fees are fairly distributed among maintaining authorities depending on where the vehicle actually traveled. Besides creating an equitable fee structure, it is also designed to prioritize your privacy, so your specific locations or routes aren't reported to authorities.

Imagine a world where you could zip along the highways in your electric car without a worry about unfair annual fees or privacy invasions. The local authorities gain too as they receive a just share of the fees paid by the drivers using their roads. All this, with no manual interference or obligations on the drivers to collect or report data. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it?

But there's more. The system also includes a unique option for the vehicle owner to customize their trust level. You can send your vehicle travel data to a remote location based on these trust levels. This provides an added layer of security and customization for EV owners who want to have control over their data sharing.

Before we let our imaginations turbocharge into a future of equitable road usage fees and enhanced privacy, remember this is a patent application that has recently been published. There's no certainty that it will make its way from these papers into our garages. But one thing we can certainly hope for is that when it does, we'll be heading for smoother, fairer roads, literally and figuratively.

P.S. While this patent promises a fair and automated revolution in how we perceive road usage fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, remember it's still a patent. There's no guarantee that it will indeed hit the market. But here's hoping that when and if it does, it drives us towards cleaner, equitable, and more secure roads for all!

Explore more