Self-driving range extender trailer

This trailer’s design would be a typical genset trailer, in which the trailer provides the electric car's continuous power requirements with its own conventional internal combustion engine and an electric generator. But this trailer would actually be a full value four-wheeled self-driving vehicle, which is capable of tracking the electric car automatically in front of it with vehicle platooning technology.

Despite rapid technological progress, due to low-reliability artificial intelligence, the unattended self-driving will not be possible for a long time for the vehicles, but in this case trailer the driver of the electric car can provide the supervision.

Charging the car could be done by using a conventional cable, but the trailer would also be able to do this by magnetic induction. The coils would be installed into the rear bumper of the car and at the front of the trailer. Whereas the electric car and the self-driving trailer do not have to be physically connected, the use of the trailer can be extremely simplified.

Induction charging with low efficiency can be done while on the move, in this case the trailer at each stop, for example at crossroads and in traffic jams, would stand close to the electric car, charging the electric car's batteries for a few moments or minutes. And the charging could be highly efficient in the parking lots, where the trailer can approach the electric car even to millimeters.

The biggest problem with a self-driving trailer is that there may be a lot of situations when the trailer needs to be driven directly. Although the steering wheel and the pedals of the electric car can be suitable for this purpose, switching them to trailer control when the electric car is stationary, showing to the trailer environment can only be very limited in the electric car displays.

Because of this the remote controlling of the trailer could be very hazardous, therefore, a navigation aid device should be needed.

Simplified structural diagram about the navigation aid device:

1. The navigation aid device would be embedded in the top of the electric car's dashboard.
2. Polymer dispersed liquid crystal layers. Each such layer would lie between two conductive layers.
3. Conductive layers. Like the SONTE Film (, these layers provide the creation of the electric field, but in this case the conductive layers would not be continuous film layers, these would have matrix structure.

The polymer dispersed liquid crystal layers and the conductive layers would be horizontally stacked, and completely fill the interior of the device.

Two sides of the device would serve as the lighting and energy supply for the layers. The lighting of the layers is necessary because of their imperfect light transmittance, and the energy supply is needed to change the light transmittance of the pixels. The curved front of the navigation aid device would be transparent.

The matrix structure of the conductive layers:

1. Conductive fibers. These fibers would be connected to the two side walls of the device, enabling the use of pixels for display.
2. Pixels. Virtually each pixel would be a tiny polymer dispersed liquid crystal cube with a maximum length of 1mm.

Benefits of the navigation aid device:

Like a miniature land, the navigation aid device could show the trailer and its direct environment in scale by using the trailer sensor data. Although visualization is merely based on the light transmittance of the polymer dispersed liquid crystal pixels, it would be perfectly suited to avoid obstacles.

In addition, the navigation aid device can also help driving the electric car in countless ways. The device can continuously show the exact location of the surrounding vehicles, making it easier to change lanes in large traffic, or even it can possible the perfect parking.

Since the navigation aid device would be part of the dashboard, and it would not be transparent when it's off, the device can be embedded in large sizes without breaking the design of the interior.

(The first version of this concept was written in February 2018.)